Parish Letter


Dear All,

Advent is upon us and these weeks in the run up to Christmas help us to reflect on all that led to the coming of Jesus Christ as a small, vulnerable, helpless human baby, born into a refugee family at a time of great political upheaval and uncertainty.

We observe Advent in the Churches of the Benefice beginning with our annual Service of Choral Evening Worship here at St James’ Birstwith on Sunday 3rd December at 6.30pm, an atmospheric, candlelit service in which we hear a variety of readings, sing Advent Carols, listen to choir pieces and take time to ponder afresh the path that led to the coming of Christ.  This year, we are also holding weekly Advent services of Night Prayer (Compline) throughout the Benefice.

We celebrate Christmas together knowing that God loves us so very much that he sent his only Son to be with us on earth.  We retell the story and celebrate together with our much loved annual Nine Lessons and Carols at each of the Churches, which has become a tradition for many.  St Thomas a Becket Church is holding a Christmas Tree Festival over the weekend before Christmas, culminating in Nine Lessons & Carols – please do come and see the trees and join in with the celebrations.  On Christmas Eve, we have our ever popular Benefice Crib Service here at Birstwith, where children are invited to dress up as their favourite Nativity character (other than Joseph & Mary – but watch out if you have a baby due around now, you may find yourself cast in these roles!).  Bethlehem Mass is at 9.15pm on Christmas Eve at Killinghall, which means that Holy Communion takes place at what will be midnight in Bethlehem, and Hampsthwaite are hosting the annual Midnight Mass at 11.15pm (local time!).  All of our Advent, Christmas and Epiphany services can be found under Christmas Services on this website.  You are all most welcome, please invite your family and friends too, we very much look forward to seeing you.

As we prepare for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, we also joyfully anticipate the arrival of our new Bishop of Ripon, Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley, who comes to us from New Zealand.  We are delighted to welcome Bishop Helen-Ann, and very much look forward to getting to know her and welcoming her back to the UK.  Please pray for Bishop Helen-Ann as she prepares for her new role here in February.

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all,

With every blessing,

Rev Chrissy Wilson

‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’
Matthew 1.23