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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like
Christmas at St James' Church  
        

Despite the pandemic, here at St James' Church, Burton Lazars, Christmas is still being celebrated, albeit in rather different ways to normal.

Using Zoom our Oikos extended household groups came together to brainstorm ideas for the Christmas Season, the first of which was an Advent Sunday online meeting for the Fellowship called ‘Comfort and Joy’ which was organised by Peter and Sue. This involved a lot of participation and contributions from members of the congregation, which, not having been able to meet together in the normal ways, was much appreciated by us all, writes Janet King.

Star Trail Map

 
Turning thoughts to Christmas, the dark nights and with most of our usual Christmas celebrations looking unlikely, Julia and Louisa teamed up for what turned into the ‘Light up Lazars Project’ as described by Julia: 

"The idea was to engage with the community using the ‘Light up Lazars’ and ‘Follow the Star’ themes to inspire the Village into action! Louisa produced a poster and we decided and agreed with the group that on Saturday, 5th December, at 5pm the church bells would ring, the Church Christmas Tree and Star in the tower would be switched on followed by all participating households turning on their lights.  People could then follow a ‘star trail’ around the village and visit a Nativity Scene illuminated in the Church porch.

Given the restrictions in place, we promoted it only on the Village Facebook page, and through posters and fliers inviting folk to get in touch to book in to light up their gardens and host a star... and waited. The response was amazing and my notepad was soon running into pages as folk offered help, support and ideas. So suddenly the project was a reality and speeding ahead!  

Father Christmas Relaxing

Father Christmas takes a break during Light up Lazars.

Horse and Rider

Above and below: A horse and rider enjoying Light up Lazars.

Decorated Horse and Rider


Church Tree and Star

The Church Tree and Star illuminated on the Church Tower.

Star

One of the Stars made by Julia and Helpers.

We decided to make stars thinking perhaps 30 would be sufficient, but had to cap endeavours at 60 as we were running out of time! My lounge was a hive of activity as we sourced bamboo, string and lights and formed a production line! Village Facebook administrator Sally produced exciting updates and info in the lead-up to the event and Tess came up with an amazing Star Trail Map with participating houses marked by a star. 

It became the talk of the village and there was a real buzz of ideas and helping each other to source lights and put them up and we were off! Friday, 4th December, stuck in the house watching the snow fall, my heart was sinking looking out of the window as folk were making snowmen in the garden and I went to bed that night, with the rain falling and winds blowing, thinking that it may not happen. 

But God moves in mysterious ways as we all know, and Saturday morning I woke to sunshine! In the afternoon we walked the route, delivering the stars, and were amazed as folks were stringing lights, setting up treats and talking to their neighbours and looking forward to what was to become one of the Village highlights of 2020!

On schedule at 5pm Stuart rang the Church bells and village resident Dean set off on his bike as ‘Cycling Santa’, complete with carols and Millie the ‘reindeer horse’ with pony friends, assisted by elves with bells and lights, joining him to walk  the route.

Louisa and I manned the Church porch and Nativity scene and gave prayer tree decorations and Nativity story books to children who waited patiently in a socially distanced queue. 

Storehouse Collection

The items collected for Storehouse.

Also we agreed to have a Storehouse collection point at Joyce’s house which yielded four big boxes of food and toiletries, some household items and cash donations of £100.

The evening was epic and in compliance with the rules of masks, distancing and hand sanitiser and bearing torches, people moved around in their ‘bubbles.’  The village was ablaze! Some folk were dressed in Christmas outfits to admire the lights in the streets. 

The atmosphere was wonderful and it pulled us all together at this difficult time. Even now, as new restrictions for Christmas are being introduced, the spirit of the evening lives on with people stepping up again by offering to provide meals on Christmas Day and get in the shopping for those who will be home alone. 
 
Thanks to everyone who made this such a wonderful event, and what now I hear you say? Well, watch this space for 2021!!!”

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Above and below: Pictures taken during the Light up Lazars event.

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In additional to the above epic event, the St James Christmas card was delivered to every home in the village, along with around 250 cut-out cardboard angels made by Yvonne and her Team, which people were invited to decorate and write a prayer or thought on to hang on the Christmas Tree in the Church grounds. 

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The Church Christmas Tree with angels.

People were also invited to sign up for one of the four available ‘slots’ for the Christmas Presentation in the Church on December 20th.  Janet reports on this event:
 

Sunday, December 20th – Christmas Service with a difference!

 
“With the Church flooded with candlelight and beautifully decorated the scene was set for this year’s Christmas Special.  A large screen was set up and chairs laid out suitably distanced to allow visitors a safe and clear view of the audio-visual presentation. 

Lasting about 15minutes, the story of the Nativity was created from a variety of sources and music genres by Janet and edited by Ian. Thankfully all went smoothly on the night and it was very well received and seemed to be much appreciated by all who came along. 

Church ready for Christmas Eve

Above and below: Pictures taken in St James' Church on December 20th.

Manger scene in the Church
 
Many thanks to all those who helped with the setting up, the decorations and stewarding – all of which helped to make for a lovely evening, despite the current situation. 

Our final Christmas Event for this year will be a 6pm Covid aware Communion Service, which will be led by Revd Mary on Christmas Eve. This is now fully booked.”
 
Finally, thanks to everyone who has helped to make things work in these strange times.
 
Happy Christmas to all!

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Above and below: Pictures taken in St James' Church on December 20th.

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