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December 2014

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When my children were little there were certain stories that they wanted to hear over and over again; the more familiar the story, the better they loved it.  If I was tired and tried to skip even a few words they would instantly notice and insist on turning back the page so that I could read it all again, this time ‘properly’.
For more than 2,000 years the Christmas Story has been told and re-told to countless generations.  Children have listened in awe and wonder as they hear about Mary and Joseph making the long journey to Bethlehem; the baby Jesus born in a manger; Angels appearing on the hillside to announce the Good News to the shepherds; and the Wise Men guided by a Star.  Children know every detail of the story by heart.
In all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, as we shop till we drop and party with work colleagues and family, perhaps this year it’s time to come back to the Christmas Story with child-like eyes.  It’s a familiar story; we all know the words, and yet we tend to forget the detail and the meaning.  Perhaps this year as we listen to the story we’ll hear it as though for the first time – pausing in wonder at the God who left the glory of heaven to come to earth as one of us.  Maybe we’ll pause long enough to see in our minds’ eye the amazing spectacle of the angelic host filling the night sky with light and praise; or perhaps we’ll follow the brightest star in the heavens as it leads us to Bethlehem to see Mary, Joseph and the baby.
Will you make time to share in the story which never ends - the Christmas Story - by joining one of the Carol services at St Giles?  Carols and Readings for Christmas on December 21st at 6.30pm or Carols for the Family at 3.00pm and 4.30pm on Christmas Eve.  Maybe it’s the child in me, but Christmas isn’t Christmas unless I’ve heard the story from cover to cover ‘just once more’…



It’s December, and that means Christmas.  We can’t escape it.  We’ve been able to buy mince pies since October!
I would guess most of us are quite familiar with the Christmas story, having seen enough nativity plays and Christmas scenes on cards, and sung enough carols.  We may thoroughly enjoy the Christmas experience: the cards, presents, decorations and lights, carol services, parties etc.  I certainly do, even with all the hard work (and expense) involved with most of it.  It’s a special time of year.
But it can be forgotten, even by the most faithful Christian, just what a mind-blowing event we celebrate.  Easter is somehow held to be even more special. I guess that’s because there’s not as much commercialism as at Christmas; Christians can feel that it belongs to us a bit more. 
But this is God, who made the world and everything in it, becoming a human being.   He chose to be born, to be a completely helpless baby, and to be brought up in an ordinary working family.  And the nativity scenes that we are so delighted by can’t convey the full untidy reality of Jesus’s arrival.
Life, of course, isn't neat and tidy.  From what we read in the Bible, Jesus’s certainly wasn’t.  Born in an outhouse after His parents had made a long journey across country, visited by shepherds who’d seen angels (these shepherds would be rough and tough men, I imagine, but absolutely amazed by the vision), and later visited by what appears to be a group of special learned astrologers from a country in the east, escaping with His parents to Egypt to avoid being killed by the king’s men.  And that was just the beginning.   
Well, I think we do right to party at Christmas time, to “rejoice and be glad” and mark the birth of the son of God.  It’s the best excuse ever for a wonderful celebration.  Whatever you are doing for Christmas, have a really enjoyable time.
Alison Tucker, URC Elder


On Remembrance Sunday, we remembered in the URC and St Giles’ churches and many met again on Armistice Day in St Giles’ churchyard to pay our respects for those who had fallen in the succession of wars that still continue to this day.
The URC’s annual Remembrance Day Service (right), led by Peter J Williams, was attended by members of the 2nd Ickenham Beavers, Cubs and Scouts, Rainbows, 1st, 2nd and, 3rd Ickenham Brownies and the 2nd and 4th Ickenham Guides, accompanied by their parents.  The church displayed presentations from the First and Second World Wars of posters, flyers, books, and memorabilia loaned by the church congregation, including a Bible with a German bullet buried in it (pictured), medals from both wars and very poignant pictures and letters with moving stories.  
The service covered the two minute silence from the Cenotaph and a member of the beavers and brownies accompanied Peter J Williams to lay the wreath of poppies beneath the church War Memorial, which carries the names of members who lost their lives serving their country in both wars.  We prayed that our love for each other would be paramount in helping the world to overcome conflict and bring peace and harmony to all.  
In her St Giles’ sermons, Felicity invited us to honour those who fought and died in the wars and conflicts of more recent times.  Then she added, “In another time, in a faraway land, another young man willingly gave his life so that others could live.  He, too, looked at the horror of the death that awaited him and embraced it in the knowledge that his sacrifice would bring freedom, life and peace to countless men, women and children in every country of the world throughout all ages.
“That man was Jesus Christ……..
“One sacrifice, in one place, freely given to bring forgiveness of sins and abundant life to all who would accept it.  Not an invitation to join a crusty club in a pointy building who meet on Sundays but an invitation to join a journey of faith that brings us into a relationship with Jesus and unites us with each other.
“Like many who gave their lives in the service of their country, Jesus was in many ways a very ordinary man but His one life has been the most influential single life in history.  So along with remembering the men and women whose death has bought our national freedom, we thank God for Jesus whose death brings all who will receive Him an eternal destiny.”



We recently received the sad news of the death of Revd Alan Cassingham on 31st October, aged 80.  Alan was Minister at Ickenham URC from 1978 until 1999, after which he and his wife, Robin, retired to live in Cricklade, Wiltshire.
It was only a few weeks ago that Alan returned to lead worship again at Ickenham URC for the Church Anniversary.  We give thanks for his life and for all that he has meant to our churches and community, especially through his involvement in the instigation of the Covenant relationship between Ickenham URC and St Giles' Church, which began in 1985.
The funeral and Thanksgiving Service for Alan's life at the United Church, Cricklade, took place on Friday 14th November and a number of people from Ickenham were present at the service.                                                                                                                          
URC Elders



St Giles’ was packed for the Service of Thanksgiving, celebrating the life of Ian Wilson, who had been a staunch supporter of the church and was much loved by all who knew him.
He and Jean had recently enjoyed their 60th Wedding Anniversary remembering a life full of flowers.  Jean, of course, is one of St Giles’ highly talented flower ladies and Ian was always available to support them.
Most of us regarded him as a gentle person and he certainly wasn’t inactive.  He was a senior research chemist by profession and a keen sportsman, having successfully played several sports.  Family holidays were his delight and included Britain, Europe and Australia.  He was artistic and a member of Ickenham’s Art society as well as NADFAS and the U3A.  For St Giles’, Ian had been on the Stewardship Committee, PCC Secretary and a Sidesman.  A life of dedication, interest and love - and now much missed.                                                            



Rita Pottinger would like to thank everyone, particularly the nurses from Harlington Hospice and Southall, who were so caring and kind to her husband, Dennis, before he died; also after he passed away, the undertakers who arranged the special funeral held on 10th November.


DROP-IN FOR THE BEREAVED - St Giles' Church Back Hall, 2pm to 3.30pm
Come for a friendly and informal chat over a cup of tea with other bereaved people and bereavement visitors.  Just come along or, if you would like to speak to someone first, please ring 01895 622970.  The next meeting is on Monday 15th December (and then Monday 19th January 2015).


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