Marion shivered during the short walk from her house to the church. The cold December wind sent flurries of leaves swirling down the path.
“I must remember my coat another time,” Marion muttered. She skirted the puddles carefully. She was taking a notice to the church notice board.
Her cold fingers fumbled with the lock as she tried to open the glass front. Once she succeeded she removed the old notice about the harvest festival crumpled it into a ball and shoved it deep into her pocket. She fixed her new notice using tintacks and stood back to check it was straight,.
At the top of the page in bright orange letters was the two words ‘Christingle service’ Yes, she was pleased with it. She particularly liked picture of a brightly coloured orange tied with red ribbon.
Marion was the new vicar of St Nicholas Church having been ordained at the beginning of the last summer. The parish committee had been quite suspicious and uncertain of having a new vicar, particularly a female, the first women vicar in the history of the church which was built in the 13C. Marion read about the idea of a Christingle service in the Anglican News.She wanted to encourage some children and families to the church.
as St Nicholas had a small congregation of mainly elderly folk.She had to tread very carefully if she wanted to bring any new ideas to the church, Harvest festival , yes that was fine, but Christingle whatever was that? Once she had shown the commitee the article in the Anglican news and explained the purpose
they had agreed and even become mildly enthusiastic about the idea. Mr Barton, the local greengrocer, had offered to provide oranges free of charge and some of the committee volounteered to help with the preparation.
A few weeks later Marion was making a shopping list. She had the Anglican News in front of her:
Oranges – one for each child; well, Mr Barton had promised 50 that should be sufficient.
White beeswax candles 50
Red ribbon 300cm cut into 5cm lengths,
Cocktail sticks 200. Four for each candle
An assortment of fruit and nuts.
“No problems,"Marion thought to herself,”Now for the service sheets and the choice of hymns.”
That afternoon Marion was in the church hall with her helpers. In front of them was a large trestle table loaded with the items from the shopping list.
“Thank you so much for coming to help me construct these Christingle oranges for the service tomorrow,” She said, “I will make one and explain the meaning of the items as we go along”
“ The Christingle service was first celebrated in the 1700s in Moravia. The candle is to represent Jesus as the light of the world, we place it in the orange like this” She took a potato peeler and made a small hole through the peel at the in the top of the orange and pushed the candle firmly into the orange.
“The orange represents of the world. You take the red ribbon and tie it around the middle of the orange. This represents the blood of Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.”
“Then the four cocktail sticks are loaded with fruit and nuts, like a kebab, and stuck into the orange to represent the four seasons and the good gifts God gives us.”
“So lets get going one down and 49 more to go!”
At 3pm the next day everything was ready. As excited children and their parents arrived at the church, each child was given a christingle orange. When the service began the lights were dimmed and a hush descended. The children took their orange to the front of the church and their candles were lit from a large candle that Marion was holding. Soon the church was filled with tiny lights which bathed the children’s faces in a warm orange glow. As the candle warmed the fruit, the aroma from the orange was released and mingled with the scent of beeswax and raisins. In the magical Christmassy atmosphere Marion began to explain the symbolism of the Christingle orange.
The Christingle is celebrated at Christmastide,a custom that started in Marienborn, Moravia on 20th December 1747, at a childrens service conducted by Pastor John de Wattville.
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