O Christmas Tree – Your branches green delight us!

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Each year volunteers work hard to decorate St. Stephen’s church in preparation for our Christmas worship. Hopefully the decorations are not a distraction nor a displacement of our worship of Jesus but an enhancement and inspiration for our Christmas celebrations.

St. Stephen’s is a building that looks its best when decorated with colour and light. The focal point is our 15ft tree draped in lights. The tradition of decorating fir trees for Christmas has many possible origins but was clearly part of Christmas celebrations for the emerging Lutheran church in 16th century Germany, and became popularised in Britain in Victorian times.

The well-known song ‘O Christmas Tree’ is based on the German song ‘O Tannenbaum‘ celebrating the true and faithful nature of the evergreen.

Come and join us for our Christmas worship – enjoy the beautiful decorations – and celebrate the birth of Jesus!

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Adeste Fideles – O Come All Ye Faithful

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Throughout the final week of Advent and into Christmas Day there are many opportunities to sing carols and join in our Christmas celebrations at St. Stephen’s.

Carols have become an established part of Christmas worship and celebrations of the birth of Jesus. They have been sung in England since the early 15th century. The songs we know specifically as carols were originally communal songs probably sung by groups of ‘wassailers‘, who went from house to house. It was only much later that carols began to be sung in church. The Latin version of ‘O Come All Ye faithful’ – Adeste Fideles – can be found in a collection of carols published as far back as 1582.

Carols by Candlelight on Sunday 17th December follows a traditional pattern of scripture readings interspersed by carols sung by the congregation and our community choir – volunteers who are passionate abut celebrating Christmas in music and song. This year they will perform versions of ‘O Holy Night’, a contemporary carol entitled ‘Born is the King’ and the Pentatonix arrangement of ‘Little Drummer Boy’  – first recorded by the Von Trapp family singers!

On Saturday 23rd December for the first time we are organising a nativity procession – retelling the story of the birth of Jesus with costume and carols around the parish. Starting at 5pm at the church – come and join us to see if there is no room at the inn!

Christmas Eve we have our Christingle service for all-ages at 5pm, with a more traditional service of Holy Communion starting at 11.30pm.

On Christmas Day at 10am there will be an upbeat,  celebration of the birth of Jesus at which all-ages are very welcome. Everyone is encouraged to show the gifts they have already received – if you open your presents in the morning!

At each there will be opportunity for us all to join in the worship of Jesus, Emmanuel – God with us – in carols both traditional and new.

All are welcome – so come all ye faithful!

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Remembrance Sunday at St. Stephen’s

red-poppyOn Remembrance Sunday – 12th November 2017 – there will be an all-age service at St. Stephen’s beginning at the earlier time of 10.30am. Much of the service will be led by local, young people.

We will be welcoming members of the Paddington Branch of the Royal British Legion and representatives of the local, emergency services. Wreaths and personal tributes will be laid at the local war memorial within the church.

All are welcome to join us.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Beneath the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defence is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone,
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Will bear us all away;
We fade and vanish as a dream
Dies at the op’ning day.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

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Harvest Festival

Harvest Lunch

Harvest was celebrated with a special all-age service with 19 young people helping to lead liturgy, play music, read scripture and offer prayers of thanksgiving.

Harvest gifts were received and, in combination with those donated from St. Stephen’s CofE Primary School, will be passed on to support the ministry of the Upper Room in Shepherd’s Bush.

After the service many stayed on to share in an international lunch with members of the congregation sharing food that reflected their own ethnic and national culinary traditions.

The weather was so warm many sat outside to eat in the sunshine!

Loving God, we come this day to praise you,
to celebrate your great goodness.
We come with thanksgiving, joy and wonder,
reminding ourselves of the richness of your creation,
and acknowledging your faithfulness
in providing for all our needs
and far beyond.
Lord of the harvest:
We give you thanks and praise!

For the beauty of the seasons,
the constant cycle of night and day,
and the vital gifts of rain and sunshine,
Lord of the harvest:
We give you thanks and praise!

For the miracle of growth,
the wonder of life
and the incredible variety
that surrounds us in the world,
Lord of the harvest:
We give you thanks and praise!

Receive our worship,
accept our offerings,
bless our celebration,
and fill us with thankfulness
for all you have given,
Lord of the harvest:
We give you thanks and praise!