Category Archives: Christmas

Christmas Day “Sermon” by Rev Heston Groenewald

It came upon the midnight clear 
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to all,
From heaven’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Peace on the earth goodwill to all, from heaven’s all-gracious king – yes please! Because peace and goodwill are things we humans can’t seem to do without help. This feels especially true in these divided weeks after the general election. One day I suspect (I hope) we’ll look back at this point in (Anglo-American) history, and we’ll shake our heads in amazement. We’ll wonder how we got ourselves into such a mess; how we let our society get so ‘broken’; how we allowed our greed and pride and self-interest to go so totally haywire. 

We need a bit of hope to break into this craziness. And that is exactly what Christmas is all about. And that is exactly what this carol (It came upon the midnight clear) is all about. But I’m grateful that the hopefulness of our Christmas carols isn’t just blind optimism. I’m really grateful that many carols are written in a minor key – rather than whitewashing everything with jolly happy jingle bells. And their hopefulness faces up honestly to life’s difficulties and complications. In today’s ‘weary world and sad and lowly plains’ (austerity society? insane working hours/culture?) I’m grateful for the sobering side of Christmas. 

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

 At this point in history, I really need to hear the angels’ song- and I wonder if you do too?? I’m grateful to hear them sing that Jesus, who I love and serve and try to follow, was born in a barn, not a palace. 

I’m grateful that the first people to hear this good news were shepherds – outcasts – not the rich and powerful.

I’m grateful that strangers from the East – from a different religion and world view – were some of the first to perceive this good news, and to honour Jesus with their presence and presents. 

I’m grateful that the angels sang a song of peace to ALL people – but really it was only the sheep and the shepherds that witnessed it. 

I’m grateful for the sobering side of Christmas – the rough broken hurting realistic side.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And warring humankind hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise of mortal strife,
And hear the angels sing.

I’m grateful that God came to be *with us* – Immanuel – in human form, vulnerable as a baby, to share our humanity and all the mess and pain of life. 

I’m grateful to remember that for Jesus during his lifetime, there was neither fame nor power, wealth nor glory. That Jesus’ family was forced to flee to Egypt as refugees. That Jesus would grow up without a penny to his name. That Jesus would die as an enemy of the state, scorned by the crowds, and betrayed and abandoned by his friends and followers.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

I’m so grateful to hear the angels sing about Immanuel – God with us in the reality of human life. He humbled himself to live and walk with us, to share our humanity – and to show us that human life can be a sharing in his divinity. If we are ready to let our self-seeking lives be turned upside down by the endless self-giving love of God. 

This is why God was born in our midst – to invite us back to the path of love which is the blueprint for our truest humanity – love for God, love for our neighbours, love for our enemies, and even love for ourselves. 

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And all the world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

In these crazy times we live in, I think the whole world needs to hear a Christmas song of peace and goodwill. So this coming year, let’s go share it with them! Let’s be angels (messengers from God) and LIVE this song in love generosity justice and joy. And for this morning, let’s be angels and SING this song of the hope we share: 

It came upon the midnight clear 
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to all,
From heaven’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

The Return of the Refugee Family

Sounds almost like a film title!

The Knitivity Refugee Family have found their way back to All Hallows just in time for the Christmas Day service followed by Christmas dinner provided by Rainbow Junktion.

All of us at All Hallows and Rainbow Junktion would like to wish you a happy Christmas and we pray that the life of Christ “be born in you today”, tomorrow and throuhout the coming year.

Christmas Day Lunch 2018

Tickets for our Christmas Day lunch are now available, further details are on the Rainbow Junktion Facebook page and tickets are available from the EventBrite page.

Please note that this event is a ticket only event. As always we will be using food saved from landfill and be serving on a Pay-As-You-Feel basis (suggested minimum donation is £5 as we are raising money to keep the community cafe all year round) and everybody is welcome.

Lunch will be served after the Church service (10:30am) and you are welcome to join us for the service as well. Vegan and gluten free options will be available but please let us know about any allergies.

Everybody is welcome, regardless of faith or ability to pay. This Christmas Day let’s have a wonderful time together celebrating our differences whilst breaking bread together. Please tell anyone who may be alone or unable to make themselves lunch this Christmas to come along because no one should be hungry on Christmas day.

If you book a ticket and find that you are unable to come please cancel the ticket via EventBrite so that you can free up your space for someone else.

Refugee Family 5 – Happy Christmas!

Christmas day and the Refugee Family have made it safe and sound back to All Hallows’ in time for the Christmas service. Yesterday Heston talked about how God works in the chaos of our lives, well, we had plenty of chaos this morning with chocolates flying through the air, Emily and a million volunteers preparing Christmas dinner for 120+ people, a film crew and two fire crews. Maybe the million volunteers is a bit of an exaggeration but there were lots of amazing volunteers!

So Christmas Day has arrived but the Christmas season hasn’t finished so the Refugee Family will be visiting a few more homes yet.

Nativity Panto 2017 – more photos

Nativity Panto 2017

Did you know that Widow Swankey and King Herod used to play together as children, along with Widow Swankey’s sister Mabel (or was that Cabel)?

Or did you know that the donkey got really upset because those humans, Mary and Joseph, didn’t seem to care that there was a baby in his food?

Or that one of the Wise Men thought that a cloud looked like a sheep with no legs and no head?!

Well, this year’s nativity taught us a lot of new things and was fantastic fun. Oh no it wasn’t! Oh yes it was!

Rosa, one of the young people in Kid’s Church wrote and directed the amazing Pantivity, or was a Natomine, and had us rolling around with laughter. The children were absolutely fantastic, the adults didn’t do to badly either and the donkey made a complete ass of himself!

Christmas Day Lunch 2017

Tickets for our Christmas Day lunch are now available, further details are on the Rainbow Junktion Facebook page and tickets are available from the EventBrite page.

Please note that this event is a ticket only event. As always we will be using food saved from landfill and be serving on a Pay-As-You-Feel basis.

Lunch will be served at 12 after the Church service (10am)

Everybody is welcome, regardless of faith or ability to pay. This Christmas Day let’s have a wonderful time together celebrating our differences whilst breaking bread together. Please tell anyone who may be alone or unable to make themselves lunch this Christmas to come along because no one should be hungry on Christmas day.

Please note this will be an alcohol free event. If you book a ticket and find that you are unable to come please cancel the ticket via EventBrite so that you can free up your space for someone else.

Advent and Christmas with All Hallows’ Church

Sun 3 December @ 10.30am Advent Sunday worship

Sun 3 December @ 6.30pm Advent Carol Service (at St Michael’s Headingley)

Wed 6 December @ 7-9pm Queer Church Leeds meeting (at Cielo coffee shop, LS1)

Sun 10 December @ 10.30am Advent Sunday worship

Sun 17 December @ 10.30am Advent Sunday worship – Nativity Play!

Sun 17 December @ 2pm Messy Christmas worship crafts and carols (at Left Bank Leeds)

Sun 17 December @ 7.30pm Sacred Wing concert and carols

Mon 18 December @ 7-9pm Theology Night (at AH vicarage) – Walk-through the Bible

Sat 23 December @ 6-8pm Movie Night! The Nativity with a simple supper (at AH vicarage – by RSVP to Heston please!)

Sun 24 December @ 10.30am Advent Sunday worship

Sun 24 December @ 12.30pm ‘Roses for Peace’ with Ahlul Bayt Mosque (in the city centre)

Sun 24 December @ 11pm Midnight Mass (at St Michael’s Headingley)

Mon 25 December @ 10.30am Christmas worship

Mon 25 December @ 1pm REAL JUNK FOOD CHRISTMAS LUNCH! For details, click on this link

Sun 31 December @ 10.30am Sunday worship

Sat 6 Jan @ 6-10pm Twelfth Night of Christmas party (at AH vicarage)

Christmas Day Dinner

A chance to share in God’s abundance as we eat a Christmas meal cooked up by chefs of all faiths and nations using food that has been rejected by our crazy food system and we share with many who would otherwise be alone or hungry at this time of feasting.

Hey 2016! What happened to the love?