This time last year, I’m pretty sure we were the only university in the UK who were allowed to hold a carol service – it was outside in the courtyard of one of our buildings in the freezing cold and rain. We did three services to try and fit as many people in as possible with six metre social distancing for singing!
This year was quite a different story as we were able to hold our carol service in the SU, joint with the SU team as part of their week of ‘Winter Celebrations’ for the last week of term. We had contributions from various different ensembles: a jazz trio pre- and post-service, an instrumental version of O Holy Night for flute, viola and guitar, and our carols were accompanied by a brass sextet and string quartet. We were hosted by our wonderful CU president Ceri-Ann Townsend, had three classic Christmas readings from Isaiah 9 and Luke 2 and heard a talk from ex-student Maddy Stonehewer about the shepherds.
The atmosphere was very relaxed and cosy and chatty, but the lack of background noise during Maddy’s talk was really striking – everyone really stopped to listen and engage with what she was saying about the outcast shepherds and how Jesus came for everyone, including the outcast and marginalised. It was a clear and concise message that hopefully planted seeds and questions in people’s minds.
I’ve had lots of people come and tell me since how much they enjoyed the night and how it should be a yearly thing. Please pray with us that people won’t just remember the fun they had but also the message they heard about the baby Jesus who came at Christmas for them.