Claires Court Senior Carol Service 17 December 2019

Our Carol Services follow a shortened version of the Service of Nine Lessons with Carols, first drawn up by Edward Benson when Bishop of Truro for use in his cathedral. It was simplified and adapted for use in the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, in 1918 by the Dean, Eric Milner-White, who wrote this opening to our service: 

“Beloved in Christ, be it this Christmastide our care and delight to hear again the message of the angels, and in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, and the Babe lying in a manger. Therefore let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious redemption brought us by this Holy Child.”

You can see the whole service here – link.

Below I write the Bidding prayers used today, spoken in different ways by either Aiden & Grace or Josh & Issy, superbly and most movingly.

The story of Jesus Christ and his birth 2000 years ago is one of the greatest stories ever told, known across the globe. Whilst Bethlehem of Galilee was the town of his birth, his country was known then as Judea, which whilst known as a Kingdom (as Britain is today), with its monarch King Herod, the power of the land was held by the colonising Roman Army, governed by Quirinius.  Quirinius was governor of the neighbouring country, Syria and had been given the task by the Roman Emperor, Augustus to carry out a census of the numbers of people living in Judea, for the purposes of government to collect taxes from the population. Compared with Joseph, Mary and their baby Jesus, our own circumstances seem fairly comfortable really. Yet much of the recent election story has been on similar themes, on providing services for health and education, to shelter the  homeless and to worry about refugees and support their presence in our country. The Christmas message of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ promises us peace on earth and goodwill among all his people.

Let’s us also recognise that our new national government, together with its partner international organisations play their part to support and provide all of our citizens here in the UK and across the world,  with comfort, hope, medical aid and human rights support. We ask that all those with power and influence will work together to make it possible to live in security and peace. Lord hear us

“We as individuals can play our part; as our Sixth Form so ably demonstrated through their  choice to visit The Gambia, doing their best through the raising of funds and materials, to work in the new school being developed in Brufut over half-term .

It’s been a year since we first spoke of the actions of Greta Thunberg, a15-year-old teenager who travelled to Katowice, Poland, on 3 December to speak in person at the UN climate change summit.  Since then she has become one of the best known faces on the planet; now 16-years old, Greta has visited the UN in Washington and travelled back to Madrid last Friday, to speak once again to the annual United Nations climate change conference. 

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg no longer wishes the world to listen to her, a privileged  white girl speaking about the plight of many nations across the southern part of planet earth whose nations are being decimated by climate change. She states that  It is time for the world to listen to the voices of the many countries calling for those of us in the developed west to help by changing our actions. ‘Whilst people write about me, they will be writing about climate change’ she says, ‘And the movement is getting bigger and bigger’ but of course that does not translate into political action.

We ask that we each may be given the strength to make good choices for the planet in all that we do, and that our new government too respond to the national will of this country to make a difference for the better, be that by pressing ahead to become carbon neutral quickly, or through the assistance of other nations who need emergency support and funds for further sustainable development.  Lord hear us”

The physical world continues to be both unpredictable and dangerous, from the terrible forest fires in the Amazon, California and Australia to the recent volcanic eruption in New Zealand.  Whilst we can do little about earthquakes and flooding, we can work to make more ethical choices, to value the Forests and Oceans for their ecology rather than for the farming of their wildlife for our consumption.

Whilst we are at school and have the opportunity to shape our future learning, help us focus on gaining the skills to do the right things right,  how to farm sustainably, tavel economically, how to comfort and console, and above all to have empathy the strength of will and the generosity of spirit for other less fortunate than us . Lord hear us.”

“This last 12 months has seen no improvement in the personal safety of men and women in our country. Whilst for many of us crime does not affect our daily work, when it does, its impact can be devastating and life changing.

Let us pray for all those communities trapped in the cycle of abuse and exploitation and give as much support as we can to those who try to support and rebuild the lives of the vulnerable and traumatised victims of crime. Let us hold in the highest esteem those who choose to work to protect us, the police, ambulance and hospital services and those who work in prisons or choose to assist in the rehabilitation of offenders. Lord hear us.”

“Let us give encouragement to all organisations and individuals dedicated to bringing about racial harmony in our workplaces, parishes, communities and in our world. We can do this through our prayers, time, skills and resources.  May those in power strive to be diligent in their duties and courageous in the face of the challenges and experiences they will encounter in such work. Let us pray for the courage to speak out in communities where racial tensions persist. Lord hear us.”

“We ask too that our efforts with these gifts of hampers and clothing reach and assist some of the poor, cold and helpless, the lonely and the unloved, aged and young alike here locally in Maidenhead; all those who cannot call upon a roof for shelter or upon a house in which to make a home. Lord hear us.”

In conclusion:

“When you come to Jesus Christ with your whole heart, your search for peace of mind will be over. He will give peace, and a calm that comes only from trusting Him. You will be able to say with the poet:

I know a peace, where there is no peace,

A calm, where wild winds blow,

A secret place where face to face,

With the Master I may go.”

About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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