E-Newsletter – 20th December 2020, Fourth Sunday of Advent
Headline: It’s great to see you in church….BUT!
- If you plan to attend any of our Christmas services please pre-register before 1pm, Tuesday 22nd December.
Without a booking we cannot guarantee entrance.
- Government advice is to stay local. No unnecessary journeys.
- All services are live-streamed.
- Check seasonal parking restrictions (see below)
“Here in Corbridge (Northumberland) we are having Carols by Torchlight outside the local church, at 7pm on Christmas Eve and the walk will do me good!” So writes Irene Wilkinson, Session Clerk at St Andrew’s, Newcastle; proving that while one door closes, a new church yard opens up! All over the country congregations will be making differing arrangements for celebration and worship of Christmas. In Newcastle, the Kirk Session has taken the sensible decision (scattered congregation, tier 3, weather forecast!) not to hold services on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Hopefully, some will join the live-stream services from St Columba’s. In London, also now tier 3, our services can be attended, but as the newsletter headlines declare – please pre-book your place for services up to Sunday 3rd January (booking deadline 1pm, Tuesday 22nd December) & please consider carefully before making journeys – Government advice is to stay local.
Whether you are able to attend in person, or remotely, I hope our Christmas services will offer joy, reassurance, peace and comfort this year. On Sunday we look forward to the music and words of Lessons & Carols, this year acknowledging the work of Borderline. Shona Fleming, who has impeccable St Columba’s connections, Borderline’s CEO, will speak a little about the charity’s work with homeless Scots in London. The newsletter also carries information about a variety of homeless related organisations and resources.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are also a little different this year, at least in timing. The traditional Watchnight Service is at the earlier time of 6pm, and Christmas Morning is the Family Service at 11am. (Please note there is no Holy Communion at 10am.)
In other news, you may be interested to know we have begun re-advertising for an Associate Minister at St Columba’s. (See the link to the advertisement.) Perhaps you know a good candidate, or someone who might be interested. Feel free to spark their interest!
The Church Office closes 4pm Tuesday 22nd December and reopens on Monday 4th January, so this will be the final newsletter until the New Year. So, let me conclude with a huge thank you on behalf of both congregations to our church staff in London (Lucy, Michael, Paul, Bernadette, Ben & Teresa), to our Session Clerks, (Charlotte and Catherine at St Columba’s & Irene at St Andrew’s), members of the two Kirk Sessions and so many others, whose labours, friendship and support (seen and unseen) sustain our worship and community. (Special mention in dispatches for Liz and Hugh and their live-stream broadcast team.) Named and anonymous, we have a lot to be thankful for due to the faithfulness and good humour of so many folk. It has undoubtedly been a difficult year, but not unblessed.
As reminder of the good, do enjoy the recent Christmas singing of our young people, who had such fun back in church last Sunday.
And as Irene finished her message: “We at St Andrew's would like to wish all at St Columba's a healthy and peaceful Christmas.” Which, we at St Columba’s echo back gladly. May we all have a deeply peaceful, joyful, safe and healthy Christmas, as we celebrate the birth at Bethlehem. And may the light of Christ guide us into a New Year of hope.
Worship at St Columba’s, Throughout Christmas
For all the details about the upcoming 11am services at St Columba’s- health and safety precautions, mask wearing etc. please visit
You MUST register your attendance for Christmas services before 1pm on 22nd December – please do not attend a service unless you have pre-booked.
For those attending on through December please remember that parking restrictions are in place around the Church throughout December. You cannot park in resident’s bays but you are permitted to park on the single yellow line as normal.
Live Streaming of Worship – Christmas 2020
The live stream service continues this through Christmas. Service times as follow;
❄ Sunday 20th December 11.00am Lessons & Carols
❄ Thursday 24th December 6.00pm Christmas Eve Service
❄ Friday 25th December 11,00am Christmas Morning Family Service
❄ Sunday 27th December 11.00am Morning Worship
❄ Sunday 3rd January 11.00am Morning Worship
The service can be watched via the church website,
To access the live stream from the homepage (front page) click the Menu button in the top right-hand side of the page and scroll down and click on “Live Stream”. This will bring up the live stream to the church. The act of worship of approximately 60 minutes, includes include prayers, a sermon and music. The words for the hymns and scripture readings will be on the website.
We believe it is really important to continue to live-stream the Morning Service under its current format i.e. for the benefit of those joining worship from afar or those as yet unable to make the journey to Pont Street. For those without internet, the Dial-In facility continues. Many people comment that they do have a sense of worshipping together, even if invisible to each other. While current regulation forbids singing in the pews, the live stream strongly recommends singing in the sitting room!
Dial into Sunday Service
If you are aware of church members or friends who do not have access to internet please inform them that they can now phone in to join the Sunday service. No visuals clearly, but at least they can hear the service. Those interested should follow:
Step 1: At 10.40am call phone number 0203 051 2874.
Step 2: You will be prompted to enter a meeting ID. Please type (using your telephone keypad) 266 883 5072#
Step 3: You will then be asked for a participant number - simply press the #.
Step 4: Enjoy the service! You will hear Ben's organ music from 10.50am.
In the 30th year as a Charity, Borderline saw perhaps its greatest challenge yet, with Covid-19, and its particular risk to the homeless population. In difficult circumstances, the outreach team have managed complex client casework working from home and alongside the network of frontline partners across London to support clients into suitable, safe and secure housing. Beyond this, we have provided one-to one support daily through phone calls to check on client welfare, and delivered financial grants for clients to access food, clothing and essentials, whilst helping individuals to be able to access critical physical and mental health services.
Individuals who we have helped off the streets this year are now able to enjoy a first Christmas indoors in a new home. For many others, who remain sleeping rough or in insecure accommodation, the winter months can be particularly difficult as temperatures start to drop dramatically. Their risk of illness or even death is heightened especially in the current pandemic. Now more than ever, your generosity could help make a difference to the life of an individual in need.
Cheques payable to 'New Borderline' and post to:
Attn. Andrew Ellison - Fundraising Manager
22 City Road
London EC1Y 2AJ
Additional Resources for Homelessness
Next Meal https://www.nextmeal.co.ukLondon
Homeless Info https://londonhomelessinfo.wordpress.com
Lists centres all over London that offer free food, showers, laundry facilities etc.
Homeless Link https://www.homeless.org.uk/search-homelessness-services
National membership charity for organisations working directly with people who become homeless in England. Similar to Next Meal, you can search for different services here by putting a postcode or location into the search box.
Members of the public connect people sleeping rough with local services that can support them e.g. to provide temporary accommodation.
A good video explanation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TipxM1QPO2s
Dontsendmeacard (Christmas e-cards!).
You can be Covid, budget and eco-friendly and donate what you save on stamps and cards at https://dontsendmeacard.com/charities/qLfn - such as the Christmas tree designed by a regular RESTART guest - to send to friends, family & contacts
If anyone has Winter clothing, liaise with Church Office for onward donation to Refettorio Felix at St Cuthbert's in Earl's Court https://www.refettoriofelix.com
Due to the current restrictions, unfortunately we will not be able to do our usual Sox & Boxers collection. As an alternative way of contributing to the Christmas Appeal, you may like to consider making a financial donation to either Glass Door , Borderline or ReStart. Thank you, from the Mission Committee.
Glass Door Update
Glass Door has significantly adapted its emergency shelter provision in response to coronavirus. Instead of running rotating night shelters, throughout the coldest months, up to 92 guests every night are staying in private hostel rooms (with full board) and increased access to Glass Door caseworkers. Whilst this new service is much safer, it comes at a dramatically increased cost. However, just £30 gives someone who would otherwise be on the street an individual room and three meals for the day. £1,440 pays for food and room for all guests (up to 48 people) in one of their two hostel buildings for a night. If you would like to donate to Glass Door’s Christmas appeal, please visit www.glassdoor.org.uk/donate.
Cheques payable to 'Glass Door Homeless Charity' and post to:
Attn. Ian Foster - Fundraising Managing
GlassDoor Homeless Charity
155a Kings Road
London SW3 5TX
For Restart like most small charities it has been a tough year, but whether planning a charity donation, a fundraiser or completing a challenge, they would welcome any support to help them keep people warmer this winter and Restart Lives. Their winter warmer campaign is here and you can make donations via the link: www.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/restartwinterwarmer
Associate Minister at St Columba’s, Pont Street
The Church of Scotland Ministries Council is currently advertising on our behalf for the role of Associate Minister at St Columba’s. The post has been vacant since Revd Andrea Price left us in November 2018. The deadline for applications is 28 February 2021. We hope to interview in March, with a view to someone joining the Ministry Team in the summer. Please keep this matter in your prayers and if you think you know someone who might be interested please bring it to their attention. Job Description (churchofscotland.org.uk)
The Church Office will be closed from 4pm on the 22nd December and will reopen on the 4th January 2021.
Tel: 020 7584 2321
Pastoral Emergency Number (out of office hours): 07591926271 Private Prayer
If you wish to come into the sanctuary for prayer during the week, please contact the Office to arrange a suitable time.
Maintaining Community and Supporting Each Other
Everybody can play a part in maintaining contact with others via telephone, e-mail or letter, especially those who are particularly vulnerable. Our Elders are encouraged to make contact with those in their districts, and church members are welcome to contact the church office to request a contact from their elder or the Minister.
St Columba’s Member
We sadly announce the death of St Columba’s member, Veronica Blackwood. Veronica died on the 25th November in her care home listening to a CD of her favourite music. Her funeral will take place on the 22nd December. We send Veronica’s family our love and prayers at this time.
Details on the many ways you can support St Columba’s can be found here https://www.stcolumbas.org.uk/giving/supporting-st-columbas
Offerings to St Andrew’s, Newcastle can be made via:
Account - Church of Scotland
Sort code - 40-34-18
Account number – 11310747
St Columba’s Book Club – 11th January 2020, 7.00pm
The January meeting of the St Columba’s Book Club will take place on the 11th January at 7pm (via Zoom). This month’s book will be “Where the Crawdad’s Sing” by Delia Owens. New members are very much encouraged, please get in touch with the Church Office for more detail.
SCRIPTURE & SILENT PRAYER FOR ADVENT
ST COLUMBA’S, PONT STREET & ST ANDREW’S, NEWCASTLE 20th December 2020, ADVENT IV
“Advent is the hush in the theatre,
between the house lights going down and the curtain going up.”
“To create times of silent prayer and reflection each day calls for a sense of its importance and for a discipline.”
BEFORE WE PRAY
This Advent we use a mixture of scripture & poetry to lead us into our silent prayer. The scriptures reflect those selected by the Revised Common Lectionary which we use at Morning Service. Once the silence begins let yourself be drawn towards/ to
savour a particular verse, or even just a single word. Our normal prayer time lasts for fifteen minutes.
God of Advent,
In this fading year, with so much loneliness and loss,
come to heal and hold:
In this interrupted year, with so much left undone or un-begun –
come to hold and mend:
In this locked-down year, with so much grounded and reduced – come to liberate, launch and renew.
Christ, our child of promise,
within your infant hands
you hold the grace and joy that will transform -
our lives, our Church, our world.
Make us ready to receive. Amen.
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 89:1-4
I will sing of your steadfast love, O LORD, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations. I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to my servant David: 'I will establish your descendants forever, and build your throne for all generations.'" Selah
POEM: Nativity, Kenneth Steven
When the miracle happened it was not
with bright light or fire –
but a farm door with the thick smell of sheep
and wind tugging at the shutters.
There was no sign the world had changed for ever
or that God had taken place;
just a child crying softly in a corner,
and the door open, for those who came to find.
TIME OF QUIET
COLLECT FOR FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Heavenly Father, you chose the Virgin Mary, full of grace, to be the mother of our Lord and Saviour. Fill us with your grace, that in all things we may embrace your will, and with her rejoice in your salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
In Advent, Christmas and coming New Year,
let us grow with You:
from darkness, into light,
from isolation, to community,
from despair, to hope.
Holy Child, Servant King, Prince of Peace,
with us, despite us,
for us, beside us.
be near us, now and always. Amen.
(Prayers adapted from Life & Work, December 2020)