How the vicar saved Christmas
I have often heard people repeat how they like Christ but can do without Christians. Or they like Jesus but don’t really go for Church. I have been a Quaker since 1991, when I began to worship with Lewes Meeting in East Sussex and really before that as I first began worshipping with Quakers in 1981-2 with Hampstead Quakers.
I was Christened and brought up in The Church of England, going regularly with my parents and The cub-scouts. I can remember my sister being confirmed, but my parents stopped going and I was never confirmed. About 18 months ago I moved to Spithurst, East Sussex near The Village of Barcombe.
I am unsure why except somewhere in the quiet I felt a push to go to the local Church. I decided to go with my family to the local Church of England, St Mary’s in Barcombe. The first time we ever went the Vicar sat in the pew in front of us to say hello and ask about us. ( did you know Vicar means deputy, the idea is that the Vicar deputises for Jesus, thats a hefty responsibility there in itself) My worship with Quakers had been centred on the Holy Spirit, and I had been asked to practise seeking that of God in everyone, I felt the Spirit in that space with the people in that church, so I decided it was a good idea and continued to go.
My wife brought up in an Irish Catholic family, will come from time to time, but her faith and place on the path is different to mine. Now I write this not to say her faith or mine is better or worse. When I met her soon after the bombs went off in London and she volunteered that day to stay and help in the London hospital she worked at as many did. I always felt her actions on that day made her a better Quaker (though she was not one) than I could ever be. For a Quaker I have always been a ‘loud’ Christian, whereas her faith is more personal.
Anyhow as I said I kept going and asked to be confirmed in my faith in The Church of England which I was in November 2013. Whereas I saw some conflict in the beliefs of the Church of England (hierarchy etc) I felt called to confirm my faith and the COfE offered and accepted, I am sure God will work out the rest.
So we come to December, big storms near Christmas and around the 22nd December, much like large parts of England, the lights went out, as did everything else electrical. We were told it would all be sorted out soon. However where I live now is a quiet rural area and whilst the lights came on in Barcombe there were other areas where the lights did not come back on. We had family coming, my older children, and also a 7 year old at home looking forward to Father Christmas coming and the lights on the tree. The electrical company we did not know was lying to us almost every hour as the electricity was not returned.
Christmas was looking dismal, we had no lighting and no cooking and only a couple of wood burners to heat the downstairs rooms and which could boil a kettle once they got going. I could get no internet or a phone signal, but on Christmas eve drove into Lewes to get a 3 G signal where I left a message on Facebook twitter and by email for our erstwhile Member of Parliament – Norman Baker (useless). I also sent an email to our Vicar James Hollingsworth, who lives in Barcombe village (where the electricity was back on) asking him to pray for a miracle as we still had no electricity and Christmas was going to be a no show. I got home to find he had rung me on the land line, so I rang him back. He told me he was off to the Service at Church on Christmas Morning early and straight after he and his family were away for a Christmas Break to family in East Anglia and I could have his house from about 9 on December 25th… Hot showers, Christmas TV and the all important oven for the Turkey. FAITH IN ACTION.
Its a gesture that stands out for me as a shining example. We did have hot showers, and cooked the food and ferried it home. That gift changed a special day into one we will not forget for all the right reasons, because the Vicar saved Christmas.
How the electricity came back on around 6pm on Christmas day is another story for another time.