Christmas at Abbey Lane

Welcome to Christmas at Abbey Lane

This year we have had to move much of our Christmas activity online but this has not stopped our Church family from getting into the Christmas spirit and looking forward to the celebration of our Saviour’s birth.

On this page we will share our Posada as Mary and Joseph travel (in a Covid safe way) around our Church family, re-creating the journey undertaken over 2,000 years ago when a young mother to be and her future husband, journeyed from their home in Galilee, to Bethlehem to register for Caesar Augustus’s census.

We will also include snapshots of other Christmas activities within our church family. We invite you to join in our seasonal celebrations and fellowship in the following Christmas services which will be available on YouTube.

  • Advent Service of Remembrance Saturday December 5th at 5pm. (View recording)
  • Christmas Carol Service Sunday December 20th at 5pm. (Click to join)
  • Christmas Day Service December 25th at 10:30 am. (Click to join)

Posada Prayer

Jesus, you are always present in the world, unseen and often not acknowledged.

Help us to experience the joy of looking forward to the coming of the Christ child.

May it be a time of new beginnings, of peace and reconciliation between families and communities.

As we welcome Mary & Joseph and their expected child, we pray that you will bless this house and all who live here.

Amen

Mary and Joseph

The journey begins

29th November.  We started our travels this Christmas at Wimbish with Deryck & Fran where Deryck fitted us with our special ‘two-person-bio-hazard-suit’.

A wipe over with an antiseptic wipe between each visit should ensure we don’t take any unwelcome visitors into one-another’s homes.

30th November.  We have had a lovely evening but it did take us by surprise!  We were introduced to something called Zoom.  Apparently this is how the people communicate these days.  We saw the girls and leaders of the Girls Brigade in their houses!   We listened to a story about love which reminded us of the time we couldn’t find anywhere to stay in Bethlehem.  We saw the girls do some craft and play a game.

We still aren’t  quite sure how the zoom worked, is it a bit like a shooting star perhaps?  There was a big star over our stable.  Mary says the wise men’s camels zoomed off to get food, is that it? Anyway we enjoyed ourselves with the Girls Brigade tonight.

2nd December. We spent a pleasant and cosy evening watching television with our hostess.  There was a strange game where two smartly dressed men walked around a green table and used long sticks to push coloured balls around.  Our hostess said it is called Snooker.

3rd December. Our host and hostess invited us to sit near the warm fire.  She was singing songs about Joseph and myself and recording them for her friend John for a special service.  One was called ‘In the bleak midwinter’, and when they drew back the curtains this morning, that’s exactly what it looked like.  How appropriate.

4th December. Snow had fallen, snow on snow, when we arrived Friday midday,  welcomed into a warm home.  We kept Janet company while she waited for her daughter and family to arrive delayed by floods.  Then we spent a pleasant evening with them having a meal, chatting and watching television. Janet’s grandson Toben (15) sang Silent Night to us.  Saturday morning we journeyed up to Gallows Hill to spend Saturday night with Marion and Pat.

5th December. Continuing on our journey in Saffron Walden we have just been welcomed into the home of Marion and Pat. They were in the process of putting up their Christmas Decorations and we have been seated next to a wooden Nativity Scene, feeling very much at home.  After our breakfast of toast and marmalade we were taken to our next inn.

6th December. We came in from the cold mist and had some warm goats milk which was very welcome. We listened to some carols being played on the piano. Then we listened to the last act of Verdi’s “La Traviata”, which was very melodious. Jenny cooked fish and chips for our supper. We’d eaten fish lots of times before, but chips were new to us. We wonder if they’ll ever catch on.

7th December. We travelled from Saxon Way to Beck Road and spent a quiet night here. We much enjoyed the visit of one of our hosts’ granddaughters on her way back from school.

8th December. We arrived at our host’s just after her bible group meeting on Zoom.   It turns out her name is also Mary.  We settled in after only a short journey.   At lunch we were introduced to sausages with garlic and English root vegetables.  During the afternoon we watched Mary write some of her Christmas cards.   She showed us one with three wise men travelling on their camels following a bright star.  We wondered where these foreigners were heading and what they would find when they got there?  After a restful night we set off on the next stage of our journey in the care of Louise.   

9th December. We continued our Advent journey with a visit to Culcreugh in Great Chesterford. We have yet to work out how to say it properly. We had waited patiently at Audley Court with the other Mary, on a very wet Wednesday morning, until Louise and John arrived.  We supervised Shiona, their daughter, who was home from university but had online exams and study to complete. It was really wet so we stayed inside, with all the animals. Not quite like the stable, but Henley the hound counts as a small donkey, with two smaller dogs and cats to keep us company. 

Christmas decorations were up early to bring some Christmas cheer, and we all posed for a photograph in front of the newly decorated Christmas tree.  On Thursday, we joined (Zoomed into?) the second bible study of the week, having just missed Tuesday’s group. Even though we weren’t all in the same physical room, the bible study was much enjoyed with conversation, discussion and laughter. Energised by the company, we then got ready to continue our journey to another village, Seward’s End.

10th December. What a lovely, peaceful evening we spent at Seward’s End. After allowing us time to relax and settle in, our hostess sat with us and read from the Bible and shared some prayer time. It was good to thank God for keeping us safe and for the kindness of all who have received us into their homes this far. In the evening we watched a little television before the twinkling lights were turned off and we settled into the darkness of sleep.

11th December. We spent a lovely evening with our host family at St John’s Close.  We shared Ruby’s cello practice and enjoyed some arts and crafts (Poppy made us a forest, see picture) and the girls enjoyed explaining to us what all of the Christmas decorations in the house were.

12th December.   We arrived at Mrs. Howe’s (or Gill, as she has asked us to call her) after a very pleasant stay with the Rhodes family.  Alas, the first thing we saw when we got to Gill’s house was another Dog!  I think we had all heard the rumours about the Romans, and their Cave Canem mosaics, and how fierce their dogs were, but this one was absolutely fine and, in fact, he even posed with us for a quick portrait as you’ll see (although I think you’ll agree that Joseph still looks a bit apprehensive). 

We passed a quiet evening just chatting – Gill asked us why we were travelling so far.  When we explained about the Census that Caesar Augustus had decreed, she said that there is going to be a census in England next year, and she was very glad that she wasn’t required to travel to her home town, as she wasn’t keen on the idea of going back to London.  We had an early night ready for the next stage of our journey – apparently we have accommodation arranged for us with a local family …. We’ll let you know how that goes …..

13th December. Mary and Joseph travelled through the rain on Sunday morning to Allard Way. They were welcomed by Luke, Sam and Mark into their dens. There were soft surfaces, dark areas, lots of loud noise and activity to keep us occupied. We saw their advent calendars counting down to an important day coming soon. Hoping there will be some peaceful days ahead this week! 

14th December. We continued our journey from John and Jo’s to Margaret’s house. She made us very welcome and we had a lovely meal together, after which we had coffee and chocolates and lots of chatter.

15th December. We arrived on a beautiful sunny day. In the evening our hostess asked if we would like to watch the news on television. It was rather difficult for us to understand and we all found it rather depressing, so the picture was turned off. We then helped with something called a crossword, which was printed in the weekly newsletter. As it was mostly Biblical questions we did quite well.

16th December.  Tonight we spent the evening with Otter (aka Alison), Mole and the Busy Beavers from the 5th SW Scout Group.  Otter explained to us and the Beavers that we were visiting them because Abbey Lane URC and Castle Street Methodist formed the Scout Group 61 years ago and continue to support them today. We made friends with Buck, the Beavers’ mascot, who has also travelled far, having originally come over from Canada.

Once again we experienced meeting people over zoom, as we watched the Beavers taking part in a treasure hunt at home, where the prize was hidden in the fridge!  We were also thrilled to witness Darcey, George & Robin make their Scout promise as part of their investiture.  We congratulated Luke & Nathan who received their Bronze Chief Scout Award, which we were told is the highest award a Beaver can get. Then we joined the Beavers in cheering, as Mole got a surprise (but socially distant) visit from Nigel (the new SW Group District Commissioner).  He was there to present Mole with her 20 year service badge.  It was a hectic, but fun filled evening and the Beavers were definitely “busy”.  It was great to see how Scouting is supporting young people and the commitment shown by all those involved.

17th December. While we rested peacefully, recovering from our very busy evening with the Beavers, the TW family were making lots of music in the background. They were called out to lead 30 minutes of street carols (socially distanced, of course) by the village green, and all were recording or practising music for their various virtual choirs. It turns out that Covid-19 restrictions didn’t keep musicians quiet after all, and much joyful noise was being made unto the Lord!

18th December. We had a comfortable night at Ruth and Brian’s. Our chat was mostly about travel and it was interesting to find we are visiting more households in a month than they have in a year. We also found that Ruth and Brian, unlike us, travel for pleasure, when they are allowed!

19th December. Guided by Ruth, we arrived to spend Saturday night in one of the oldest houses in Saffron Walden where we found Meg Reed relaxing after her Covid-19 vaccination. We gave thanks together for the skills of scientists and the National Health Service. We marvelled at the joy and energy of the dancers in the “Strictly Come Dancing” Final but, tired after our journey, we fell asleep before the end.

20th December. We arrived safely in Lambert Cross and helped Sue unwrap her birthday present! Not long to wait now until another birth-day.

21st December. We were collected for a short walk to our next host.  Observing social distancing in our bubble, we settled in to enjoy the twinkling lights and decorations in the conservatory.  After the dinner was cleared away, we were introduced to an online Nordic Advent calendar with music and festive scenes, a new experience.  It was then time to wrap the final few Christmas gifts and consider the true significance of this tradition.

22nd December.  We arrived with Audrey to stay the night with Judith and Joe. Of course we were excited and soon made ourselves at home.  After a restful night and breakfast our kind hosts played us a few carols, then Stephen came to take us on the next part of our journey to his home. 

23rd December.  We arrived with Stephen, our host, at his home and met Yin, Abigail and Andrew.  Abigail was busy revising for exams, which didn’t seem a lot of fun. She was studying a religion called Islam. Their holy book is called the Koran and mentions us more times than the Bible.

Andrew then got dressed in a loose white robe with a belt and once again we experienced this Zoom thing. Andrew was listening to an instructor on Zoom who was training him in self-defence. Apparently it’s called Karate and comes from a place called Japan, which is a long way east of here. Could it be even further east than Persia? Perhaps when he grows up Andrew will join the Zealots to help free us from the Romans? (Stephen and Yin hope not)

Then something much like we’ve experienced before. Our hosts sat together at a musical instrument called a piano. But this was a bit different. Stephen and Yin sat down together and played a duet. It was more Christmas Carols but they sounded rather different – the style is called jazz – strange word.

24th December. Keeping warm by the fire while listening to Carols from King’s College, Cambridge.

25th December. Christmas Day. As we celebrated the surprise night-time birth of our baby, whom we named Jesus, we joined Julian outside to see what was cooking on the barbeque. Keith “the knit and natter tea boy” joined Meg, Julian and our little family for Christmas lunch in the garden. Apparently this is what the Australians do on Christmas Day, so why not us?

HAPPY CHRISTMAS, everybody! All our love, Mary, Joseph and Jesus.