We have enjoyed a very blessed Advent and Christmas at St Michael's, and have been pleased to welcome many visitors (some for the first time) to our services and special events during December and January.
As well as our usual schedule of morning Masses on Advent Sunday we had a beautiful carol service in the evening by candlelight, a wonderful sequence of scriptural readings, congregational hymns and choral music. A particular highlight this year was Elgar's The Spirit of the Lord, sung by the choir and accompanied splendidly by Joshua Ryan.
As has become tradition, Fr Tim invited choir members and friends to the vicarage after the service, an opportunity for them to quench their thirst after a long day's singing but also an opportunity to thank them for their hard work and dedication throughout the year.
It was a pleasure to welcome Alan, Sue and friends from Croydon Mencap for the second year running, to host their Christmas carol service. We heard readings from the Bible and reflected on what the Christmas story means to each of us, hearing some moving reflections from those with learning difficulties and their carers about what Christmas means to them.
The following week, David Swinson and the Choir of Trinity School, Croydon joined us for their Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, and on Advent IV in the evening we held our own Christmas carol service.
Midnight Mass and the Mass on Christmas Day were both joyful occasions, and it was good to welcome Tamkin Riaz from Faiths Together in Croydon and some of his friends and colleagues, who offered lunch on Christmas Day to those who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day.
Finally, on Epiphany Sunday it was a joy to welcome the Bishop of Southwark and friends and colleagues from Croydon Central Deanery to our Epiphany Carol Service. Bishop Christopher presided, and friends from different parishes in the Deanery read the lessons. Thank you to the churchwardens who provided delicious cocktails after the service for us to enjoy!
Earlier in the day we welcomed Jordan Kay as this year's second pastoral assistant. Jordan comes from Sheffield Diocese and is discerning a vocation to ordained ministry, and we are delighted that he has come to join us.
We are blessed at St Michael's to have such a dedicated team of people who work together - often behind the scenes - to ensure the smooth running of the parish. Thank you to all who have welcomed people, prepared and cleaned the church for the festivities, to our musicians and servers for their hard work, and to all who made Advent and Christmas here so beautiful.