Chronicle.lu spoke with the Rev'd Geoff Read, Chaplain of the Anglican Church of Luxembourg, in the run up to Christmas.
Chronicle.lu: Please tell us a bit more about the services and other activities organised by the Anglican Church this Christmas period (e.g. Light for the Darkness, Hassel walk, Midnight Holy Communion and Christmas Morning Communion). Who can join these services/activities?
Rev'd Geoff Read: Our Christmas Services offer different sorts of ways for different sorts of people to mark Christmas. They range from the traditional Christmas Eve Midnight Communion with carols and liturgy, through to telling the Christmas story in Wandering & Wondering out in the woods in Hassel earlier that day.
For some, world events or personal issues mean that they want to mark Christmas in a more reflective way, so Light for the Darkness offers space for quiet, to light a candle and pray. We are glad to share that with our friends from All Nations Church and the English-speaking Catholic Community. On Christmas morning all ages can celebrate using a mixture of traditional and contemporary Christmas carols.
Another of our Christmas activities is Joy in a Box. Children ranging from new-born to teenagers living in one of the facilities run by FMPO here in Luxembourg receive a range of personal gifts in a shoe box wrapped in seasonal paper. This year we are giving joy in a box to seventy-four children!
Like our regular Church life, all our services and events over Christmas are in English. We are Anglican, but everyone is welcome from whatever background, whether you have been part of a church for years, are coming back after a break or are coming for the first time to find out more!
Chronicle.lu: More generally, please remind us of the importance of Christmas for the Anglican Church (in Luxembourg, but perhaps also more broadly).
Rev'd Geoff Read: Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, an historical event well substantiated by the Bible and other sources. But it is just one facet of the Big God Project, His love for human beings. The coming of God into our world as a human being assures us not only that He understand us, but also, He is with us in the things of our daily life. And the story then goes on into Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, the things we remember on Good Friday and Easter and Pentecost. Together they are about how God is at work in His world, both then and now.
Chronicle.lu: You previously mentioned that "the true story of Christmas invites us to engage with the pain and the uncertainty of our world in a new way". How has the Anglican Church responded to the challenges of the past year (e.g. offering its support / being there for people)?
Rev'd Geoff Read: Maybe it’s not a new way but digging deeper into the old unchanging truths of Christmas for what they have to say to our generation in the West today, facing what is for us a new and unprecedented context of pandemic, war, political and economic instability.
Sense-making and glimpsing purpose can make even the hardest challenges more bearable and can also open us to seeking new ways to see them transformed. Part of our Church’s role is to help people make sense of the wonder, complexity, and challenge of life.
In the past year we have run our online Alpha course twice, creating space for people to ask and discuss questions about life and consider the answers the Christian faith offers. In total we have now run Alpha eight times and the next one starts on Tuesday 17th January. Like everything we do, all our welcome!
Chronicle.lu: What were some of the highlights of the past year? Perhaps this included the two-part Charity Arts Festival? Please remind us how much was raised at this festival and how the money will be used.
Rev'd Geoff Read: Our Church loves the Arts and creativity, so our two-part Arts Festival was a highlight of 2022. It offered a more formal evening concert and then the next day an opportunity for all sorts of people to offer their creativity, even if they had only just started playing an instrument. I even got my trombone out after a 40-year break! It was a wonderful social event and also helped raised around €5,000 towards the charities we support like Friends International and Stemm.
Chronicle.lu: As Chaplain at the Anglican Church, what are your hopes for the new year?
Rev'd Geoff Read: In 2023, like so many people, I hope for peace with justice in Ukraine and anywhere we see the evil of violence and the abuse of power. I hope that we will learn to inhabit this world in a humble and sustainable way so that my two-year old granddaughter can wonder at the same things I did at her age.
Hope as a Christian is about joining in with the things God is doing, things that may seem, at first glance, small and insignificant but are full of power and possibility. Not unlike the baby who was born in Bethlehem!
Wednesday 21 December @ 19:30: Light for the Darkness, St Alphonse with All Nations and English-speaking Catholic Community
Christmas Eve, 24 December @ 14:30: Wandering & Wondering, Hassel; 23:00: Midnight Holy Communion, Konvikt Chapel
Christmas Day, 25 December @ 10:30: All Age Holy Communion, Konvikt Chapel
For further details, see www.anglican.lu