Local residents and visiting family members and friends came together in celebration over Christmas to form large crowds at all of the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.
The two family-friendly Blessing of Crib services on Christmas Eve attracted over 700 people for the two services together. A special feature of the Christmas Eve Crib services at All Saints is the re-enactment of the story of the birth of Christ using adults for the main parts, whilst all children attending are provided with a head-dress to play the parts of the groups of shepherds and kings, as well as donkeys, cows and sheep for the stable. The service raises money for Christian Aid, helping the poorest people in the world.
The traditional Nine Lessons and Carols service inspired all its 300-strong congregation with sublime music from All Saints Church Choir and the reading of the Scriptures telling the story of the coming of the promised Messiah. The choir on Christmas Eve included former choristers, now students or recent graduates returned from university to Wokingham for the Christmas break.
The Midnight Communion service is one of the few occasions of the year when the High Altar is used as the focus , which of course at Christmas also houses the Christmas Crib. The final candle on the Advent Wreath, the Christ Candle, was lit as the clock turned towards midnight; and a ceremony of lights saw dozens of candles lit and the Christmas crib illuminated in a blaze of light. This service raised money for Parents and Children Together, (PACT) a church-supported adoption agency for our region.
Many family groups worshipped too on Christmas morning at the All Age Communion service. As in previous years, the service featured a light-hearted participative telling of the Christmas message. This year “Strictly Come Christmas” saw Rector David and Associate Priest Hannah hosting the re-enactment of scenes from the Nativity story by teams of congregation members who were judged and awarded points on their performances by a panel of other congregation members. The winning team was awarded the “exquisitely hand-crafted” Strictly Come Christmas prize glitter bauble. This service together with the earlier 8am Holy Communion service on Christmas day raised money for Potter’s Village; a child crisis centre in southern Uganda.
Bells were rung before each service by the All Saints band of bell-ringers.
The church was decorated with floral arrangements and candles throughout by the All Saints Church Flower Guild; who met for a communion service on the Saturday before Christmas at the start of a busy friendly morning of flower arranging.