THE morning service at Crediton Methodist Church on Sunday, December 17, was led by Chris Mann.

The familiar readings from Matthew and Luke were dramatised by members of the congregation in the form of the traditional nativity scene.

As we prepare again to welcome the Christ child we remember the story, retell it anew, wait and wonder for the day itself.

We immerse ourselves in the preparations and the decorations, present buying and card writing. 

We plan and we clean, attempting to make everything ready and right. 

But, in doing so, it is easy to overlook the reality of the story we know so well.

A young couple with a baby on the way forced to travel at the most important and stressful time. 

Chaos in Bethlehem – a less than welcoming welcome, relying on the kindness of strangers for the most primitive of shelters. Into all this comes the Christ child.

Beneath the star above the stable comes the light of the world, the hope of all humanity, the bridge that brings back the people to their God, the light that no darkness will ever be able to overcome,

A baby who grows into the man who will guide us and empower our lives through the gift of the Holy Spirit.  

Whose example will forever shine before us just as the star shone above that stable at the beginning of our story. Are we ready to continue to follow His light? 

Are we truly prepared to allow that light to shine out of our lives and into the darkness endured by others, bringing the care and compassion, the love and joy of Christ into their lives too?

At this special time help us to remember that we are still only at the beginning of our story.  Help us to be ready to shine now and throughout the coming year.

In the afternoon the Carol service, with well-known carols and readings, was led by Rev Alison Richardson.  

The congregation had been asked to bring along a figure associated with the nativity and so we built up a nativity scene unlike anything ever seen before.

God incarnate being born in a stinking mess of an animal stable, born into the stinking mess of the world then. 

No fuss, just quietly entering time, and the first people to be told about the birth of Jesus were the shepherds out in the fields outside the town. They slept across the gateway to the fields to protect their flocks from wild animals and were probably dirty and smelly and were marginalised.  

We hope and pray that Jesus will return again - when He does who will be the first to know? 

Just like the shepherds, it will probably be those on the edge of society – the homeless and vulnerable.

We heard that the Magi offered the Christ child gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

Alison asked “what can we give Him this Christmas”? our hearts. 

Let us greet Him with joy this Christmas – eyes wide open and ears well attentive – and hold out our hands to those on the edge of society now.

Bronwyn Nott