Mallow Union of Parishes held their Christingle celebration on the 2nd January 2022. The Rev. Meurig Williams reflects on the past Christmas and Christingle celebrations and writes:
As in many other parishes, this year, there was a measure of apprehension throughout Advent in Mallow Union, as we witnessed rising infection levels, wondering whether further restrictions might apply to places of worship. In order to mitigate against crowded churches, it was felt inappropriate to publicise Christmas worship, particularly our candle-lit carol services, in the local media. Instead, posters outside our three churches and information on social media ‘did the talking.’
Despite this low-key approach, people came in very encouraging numbers, even though we managed to keep to the ‘safety capacity’ at all services, including the celebrations of the Eucharist on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day. As well as drawing regular worshippers, it was good to welcome visitors and people worshipping with us for the first time.
We celebrated the feast of the Epiphany on Sunday 2nd January and, in addition to the usual pattern of morning worship in Castletownroche and Doneraile, there was a Christingle Celebration at the largest of our three churches, St James’s, Mallow. It drew over 50 people, comprising mainly of young children with their families. This was encouraging, given that there was no additional publicity in the wider community and some of our regular families were away for the holiday period. Again, we were glad to see new faces. A team of people had spent several hours the day before preparing the Christingles. We had originally planned to have a big party afterwards, but the public health guidance made that inappropriate.
The Christingle Celebration itself lasted just over half an hour, combining joyful festivity with a sense of wonder and mystery. This was especially evident as a group of youngsters and their parents brought their lit Christingles to the crib to sing ‘silent night, holy night.’
As we reflected on the scriptures for the feast of the Epiphany, we reminded ourselves of how the magi were strangers from a part of the world that was barely known and understood at the time of Jesus, and how this encourages us to see the world as much bigger than ourselves, as people from different cultures, languages and backgrounds bring gifts to enrich our lives as Christian people for the future.