• Annabel/Brian McKeown

Christingle Service at Sandford St Martin

The Christingle (Christ Light) service at St. Martin’s Church in Sandford St. Martin is always a magical event, heralding that Advent (derived from ‘adventus’ – arrival) is truly upon us.

Let’s forget the bling sparkly High Street window displays of late October and mince pies with ‘best before’ dates coincident with Bonfire Night; we’re now officially preparing for the celebration of Christmas. Christingle starts the clock, and sets the mood in a church where windowsills and alcoves are bedecked with red berry greenery and candles, and a magnificent Christmas tree.

Our attention focused on the Advent Wreath placed upon the font, a crown of five candles, the circle representing the eternity of Christ. The rector Graeme Arthur explained, with the help of a taper-touting Brownie to light the candles, that these represent the Ancestors, the Prophets, John the Baptist (all purple) and the Virgin Mary (pink), until finally on Christmas Eve the central candle (white) representing Christ will be lit. As usual, Graeme was amused by the apparent lack of our ability to remember the association of the different candles; Santa does not feature.

In his talk, Graeme (assisted by children with candle head-dresses) spoke about the Jewish Festival of Light (Hanukkah) which Jesus would have known and celebrated, and the importance of light in our festivals today – the true symbolism of the coming of Christ this Christmas: darkness transformed to light.

Families placed presents under the splendid tree, to be distributed to the less fortunate within our region, and the children carefully received their Christingles. The singing of “Away in a manger” by candlelight was truly magical.

Thanks to the Brownies for making the Christingles, and Pre-School for their impressive Festival of Light display. The Cubs ably took charge of the collection and readings, and once again Middle Barton School Choir sang beautifully.

A lovely service was rounded off by mince pies, doughnuts and biscuits, juice and mulled wine – a terrific community event.