It is always hard to predict how many people will come to the Crib service. There is no public transport and many folk in the congregation are already away. This year I printed off 10 orders of service, plus some large print copies and started to get the church ready. The first person to arrive was a woman who had decided to spend Christmas in Newcastle. She lives in London and is involved in several different churches there. Each year, she chooses a different city to spend Christmas in. This year she chose Newcastle. She saw that the church door was open and came in. Next came a young Danish man and his mother, then a student on his own. After the service started, two more students came in, from India they told me later. Folk from Northern Lights MCC arrived, some with visiting family. By the time the service ended, there were 17 of us, over half of whom were not part of our regular congregation. It was as though we had become the welcoming stable for those drawn towards the Light of the World.
It just seemed wonderful to me that folk wanted to be in church on Christmas Eve and risked going somewhere they didn’t know. I was so glad that we had opened our doors and shone our light into the street to let people know that they were welcome. My prayer for 2015 is that we continue to do this – that we continue to shine our light and welcome people in – the alone, the lonely, those who need a place to worship God on a cold dark night or who are just curious. What a great way to spend a year!