In my internet world today, there have been TWO blog posts talking about quality of content over quantity. Apparently it is not WHAT we write about, in our stories and our blog posts, but HOW we write it.

(See The Write Practice and Jeff Goins).

This is kind of comforting to me. Some days I have no idea what to write. Yet I have a friend who lives thousands of miles away who I can happy chat to on the internet almost every day, and we can usually find something to talk about. That says to me that I have plenty to say.

So in my post today I am going to tell you about my youngest daughters Christingle service at the church. Don’t go thinking this will be a religious post. I’m not especially religious. I mean, you know, I have beliefs, but I don’t follow any particular church group. My kids go to a local village school which is connected to the church, although most of the kids are not Christians. They are taught about other religions, but mostly about the Christian faith, and they go to services at the church. We join them for end of term services. I rather suspect the end of term services are the only times (other than weddings and funerals) when the church is full.

If you don’t know what Christingle is, you can find out about it HERE. It’s Wikipedia, I know, but it gives you the general gist. I’m not convinced about the story of the 3 children…I suspect someone made that up at some point. But then some people are not convinced the story of Jesus is true either so…what do I know? The general idea is that children are given an orange, with four cocktail sticks stuck in it with fruit on, a candle on the top, and a red ribbon round it. The orange is supposed to represent the world, the ribbon is the blood of Christ, the sticks are the four seasons, with the fruit (or sometimes sweets) representing the harvest, and the candle is the light of the world.

A picture of a christingle, picture taken by m...

A picture of a christingle, picture taken by myself. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyway, I have never been to a Christingle service, and this is the first time my daughter’s school were doing one.

The church is beautiful. Its a gorgeous ancient stone building, circa 14th century. All Norman arches and Gothic carvings, stained windows and wooden pews. I love sitting in it. It seems full of magic and spiritualism to me.

The children usually sit with their class mates in the pews at church, but today they sat big kid, little kid, big kid, little kid. One of the things I love most about my daughter’s school is how they encourage the bigger kids to take care of the little kids. It’s so cute. And it has resulted in BOTH my daughters having a total love for younger children.

The Vicar of the church is smaller than usual. Size challenged. I’m not sure of the current politically correct term, but he had to stand on a stage so we could see him. You can imagine that with a school full of children. Kids tend to say what they see, and find humour in the inappropriate.

This Vicar likes to sing and play guitar. He is fond of actions for songs and seems to think he is quite ‘down with the kids’. He is nice enough though.

There were songs, in this service, that we had to join in with even though we had never sung them in our lives before…they helpfully set them to the tunes of songs we HAD heard of, such as Puff the magic dragon and Show me the way to Amarillo. We did the best we could. Including the clapping. And the actions.

And then the kids (all approx. 150 ish of them) were given an orange with red tape round it and a bag. The bag contained cocktail sticks, dried fruit, some silver foil and a candle.

With the Vicar’s instructions, they set about putting the sticks in their orange, decorating the sticks with raisins and candied peel, and plunging the candle into the top. Making the Christingle orange was clearly a social event, and resulted in lots of chatter from the kids, despite the Vicar’s valiant efforts at having the task done quietly. “There’s no need to talk! Lets see if we can hear that little church mouse scampering about!” he implored. The kids weren’t listening for the mouse or the Vicar.

I thought – surely though, they are not going to light the candles? Not all these kids sitting so closely together?? What happened to ‘Health and safety’?? Surely someone would get burnt…I wondered if there was any water in the baptism font, or maybe some fire extinguishers…I guess they have to have some, but they weren’t especially obvious…

But yes they DID light the candles, from the flame of the candle at the front and all passed round. THIS was why they had big kids sitting next to little kids. Damage limitation.

All the candles were lit and then they turned off the lights in church.

And then silence. Or at least as quiet as 150 kids all sat together can be.

It was quite beautiful.

We were asked to think of children who were less fortunate – those on the streets or being bullied or abused – and to send them light.

And then the kids were asked to blow out their candles, and the lights came back on.

As far as I know, no-one got burnt or singed or in anyway set on fire. I have to hand it to the school for their achievement.

I patted the arm of one of the teachers on my way out of church – “Well done! I really thought there were going to be burnt fingers or singed hair!”

“So did we.” She muttered.

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