The First Christingle


Will you believe, gentle reader, that even though I have been in parish ministry for nearly 30 years, yesterday’s Christingle service at Elsfield was not only the first I have conducted, but the first I have ever attended?

I’ve spent several minutes asking myself how and why this can be, and think the answer must touch on some of the following:

  1. Christingle in its present form, promoted by the Children’s Society, is only 40 years old. That means that when I was ordained in 1979 it was all pretty new-fangled, and not the kind of thing the trad parish I first served in will have done.
  2. More to the point, I’ve never been a Blue Peter type, so anything that comes with a whiff of sticky-backed plastic (OK, I know that doesn’t come into it really) leaves me performatively challenged.
  3. Since I’m constitutionally incapable of organizing even a Eucharist in a church, the logistics of obtaining enough oranges, sticky red tapes, cocktail sticks and sweeties for an unknown and indefinite number of children always looked a bit like flying a paper aeroplane (or even a RC stunt granny) to the moon.

Enter wonderful Emma and Justine, two young Elsfield mums with the vision and desire for a Christingle service, who splendidly made it happen and only needed me to be the front man and do the stuff I can do: stand up and spout. We reckoned that from a parish pop. less than 90, we got all 17 children in the parish there – how many parishes can say that, I wonder?

There were some useful learning points for next time, too.

Note to self: If someone has cut a bit off one side of the orange so it can sit on the table, the place to stick the candle in is the opposite side.

Note to Emma and Justine: Provide softer sweets for sticking on cocktail sticks, or else spare sticks to replace all those that get broken or end up sticking in people’s fingers etc.

Note 2 to self: It would be really great to have a camera there, to record the fun.