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Monday
Jan152018

First Christmas Services at the Parish of St Silouan, Southampton

Our Christmas was framed by two festive meals with many traditional Russian dishes: a Christmas Eve meal before the Vigil service, and one after the Liturgy on Old Style Christmas Day. There were also craft activities for the children. The two days had a wonderful atmosphere of joy and celebration.

The Vigil service was the most demanding upon the people and the choir, and it was noticeable that the attendance was at its lowest during the chanting of the Canons at Matins, when there were no more than 20 souls, although twice that number had been present to begin with. After the Vigil, Fr Joseph made a brief general confession and absolution was givenindividually.

On the day of the Feast, we approached 100 people, including about 30 children. Everyone seemed be having a good time. The choir sang out powerfully; the icons and iconostasis were beautifully decorated with flowers; our priest was demonstrably happy to see us. We prayed for our new Bishop, Matthew, and felt gratitude to Archbishop Elisey for having established our parish. 

The Feast of the Nativity is about reversal of the sin of Adam, of the alienation from God which marks the human race. God has come down us, and by uniting himself with our fallen nature has inaugurated the Kingdom of heaven, the divine nature transforming and transfiguring the human. How can there be any other reaction to this than joy? The period of Advent, and the sobriety of fasting and penitence sets off the Feast like a foil to a jewel. That is the theory, and on this occasion, I felt that there was indeed unfeigned joy, as the light of the “winter Pascha” shone upon us. May we have many years of this!

Stephen Thomas

More pictures of the events can be seen in our Photogallery


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