That Was The Week That Was
This week being the beginning of Lent, events I’ve attended at church have included Shrove Tuesday’s Pancake Party in the Church Hall and this (Sunday) afternoon’s Lent Lunch in the Parish Centre. With my Grade Five Music Theory exam and Maths GCSE retakes next Thursday, Friday, and a week on Monday, I’ve spent much of the weekend in my ‘learning den’ (aka my bedroom) completing past papers and catching up on other work. But I did manage a bike ride to the river with my mum yesterday (Saturday), a few hours of reading the weekend papers, and have just enjoyed a roast dinner with former St Luke’s vicar Richard Holroyd – in Maidenhead to sing at a concert at Norden Farm, which Mum, Dad, Matthew, and a large number of the St Luke’s congregation attended.
Normally, this introductory piece to the Review also includes a summary of the week’s bigger headlines. We’re in the strange position this week, though, where in addition to the continuing investigations into phone-hacking and bad press behaviour, Rupert Murdoch has launched a new paper to replace the News Of The World that he and his son killed off last year – and that new newspaper has become news in itself. It’s called The Sun On Sunday (advertised by a frankly brilliant campaign yesterday centred around the song from Annie, Tomorrow, which of course includes the line: ‘The sun’ll come out tomorrow’. The print-run for this first edition: 3 million. The price: 50p. As the BBC’s Nick Higham commented, it looks and feels like The Sun, and features a front-page splash (an exclusive interview with Amanda Holden) continued onto four pages inside.
Regardless of whether you do or don’t like Murdoch’s media control, one must commend his journalists. They’ve clearly worked hard – amid an uneasy, to say the least, environment with the recent arrests and challenging Leveson Inquiry backdrop – to get this paper out. Remember, very, very few of those still in Wapping were there during the old Sunday paper’s dodgiest days – the majority are innocent journalists, living under the shadow of those who sat at their desks before them. And yet, in spite of all this, the true hero of journalism, who’ll be remembered longer than almost all Sun hacks, is Marie Colvin (a writer for News International’s other Sunday publication The Sunday Times). She died this week after the makeshift media centre she and her colleagues were working in was, by designed attack or pure chance, bombed by Syrian forces. Fellow journalists have been paying tribute to her since Wednesday – including, rather bizarrely, Katie Price, in the first of her columns for the The Sun on Sunday.
That Was The Week That Was
Week Two of 2012, and perhaps the most reported news story is only just beginning. On Friday (13 January) night, the Costa Concordia ran aground, suffering a gash in her hull and causing the cruise ship to partially sink. It’s not yet known how many people have died or what caused such a new ship to end up at a 70° angle, but it seems the vast majority of people on board managed to get to safety. You can read the Wikipedia article I started on the disaster here.
One of the most horrific stories of the week took place in South Africa, where an elderly couple were burned to death for “being witches” in front of their seven-year-old grandson, in Jacobean-style. Closer to home, Edinburgh Zoo’s male giant panda has been taken off public display, Ernst & Young were named the top gay-friendly employer in the UK, and TV chef Antony Worrall Thompson apologised for shoplifting from a Tesco store in Henley. The theft itself inspired a wealth of online jokes, including “Why did the chicken cross the road? Because it was shoved up AWT’s top”, and “There’s no such thing as a free lunch, unless you’re using AWT’s latest cookbook”.
At St Luke’s Church, Maidenhead, Christmas is close to our hearts. The largest of all of the churches in Maidenhead, St Luke’s always attracts hundreds to its Christmas Eve services. That’s why, a couple of years ago, we took a brave step in putting on two ‘Christingle’ services a year (one for younger children, the other for teenagers and older families) – stopping the previous tradition of alternating between crib services and Christingle services. That plan was the brainchild of former vicar of St Luke’s, Revd Richard Holroyd (who moved to two new parishes in Bristol in the last quarter of 2010). He loved the idea of a Christingle: a single, handheld object, that summarises the reason for the coming of Christ in such a way that everyone – from the youngest child to the oldest grandparent – can understand.
Although he’s moved on, we continue to serve our town’s community in this way so yesterday afternoon, a team of volunteers started the annual massacre of oranges in the name of Christ; first taking an orange, cutting the end off to make a flat base, wrapping red tape around the fruit, piercing it with cocktail sticks with sweets attached, and finally adding a candle (which symbolises the light of the world).
This year’s first service (Christingle I) was, in many ways, extremely similar to 2009 – despite being led by a different member of our ministry team. The biggest criticism I had of today’s younger Christingle service was that the hymns and carols chosen were too traditional: they included ‘Rocking Carol’ which includes the repeating line ‘We will rock you, rock you‘ (though the tune didn’t go quite like the one many of the children were thinking of). Even the bulk of the adults were unaware of the melody, and it was worse for the next carol which even I didn’t know. Don’t get me wrong: I love hearing less-popular and less-familiar carols and Christmas songs at a time where we otherwise hear the same ten all the time covered by countless artists. Indeed, I love ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Adam Lay Y Bounden’, though I admit that the former is rapidly becoming more and more well-known.
Apart from that, I believe that those in charge of making sure the two services went ahead as they should did a cracking job. The focus was still, very much, on Christmas being a ‘festival of light’, and this was proven when everyone stood around the inside walls of the building, illuminating the church only with the light of each Christingle’s candle.
And so, with just hours left until the big day, it’s time to break out the Sellotape and wrapping paper… and hope I haven’t forgotten anybody!
Have a wonderful, safe, happy Christmas. With love and best wishes,
Postscript: For comical value, I leave you with this video I made a couple of years ago, following the short life of a Christingle. It’s funny not just because of the poor editing quality, but also the pitch of my pre-pubescent voice.