|Weymouth Football Club Bob Lucas Stadium|
I am so very pleased to have been a part of “The ‘Silent Night’ of World War One, which I shared in at Weymouth Football Club’s Ground, the Bob Lucas Stadium, earlier this evening. The event was organised by “Refresh” (http://www.refreshme.uk/), an umbrella Charity for The Church in Weymouth and Portland. I feel privileged to be a Trustee of Refresh.
In common with other places around the country we organised an event in a football stadium which consisted of both singing carols and commemorating the First World War Christmas truce where it would appear the English and Germans played football together.
It was fantastic to find that somewhere between 900 and 1000 people turned out to be a part of this evening.
We were pleased to have Richard Drax MP reading the account of the birth of Christ, a poem from Daisy White; a poem written by Keira Stewart and enactment of the Christmas truce football match; a message from Andy Rimmer, Club Chaplain of AFC Bournemouth; a children’s choir from a mixture of local schools; a choir from local churches; the Salvation Army Band; and guest Caroline Milverson (granddaughter of Regimental Sergeant-Major George Beck from Portland who served on the Western Front for the whole of the 1914 to 1918 conflict).
RSM Beck was awarded the Military Cross in April 1918. He kept a diary during the conflict. One entry details the Christmas truce of 25 December 1914, saying: "Germans very eager to exchange almost anything for our 'Bully Beef' and jam."
This was a very special occasion. When we decided to organise this, and even up to this evening, we had no real idea whether we would have 100 or 1000 attending. It was closer to the latter! This was a real example of Community and Church coming together and partnering to make something precious. You can see a small part of the evening here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2BXJQcp7Gk&feature=youtu.be
It seems to me it is still vitally important that within the Church we make every effort to make known the unity that God has given us in Christ. Tonight was one example of this. It is often easier to do things on our own, yet I am convinced God has given us each other within the Church, and that as we trust each other more, and minister and mission more, then we see God’s Spirit at work within is and around us in many and varied ways.
It is no surprise to me that when Church and Community work together there is something which is greater than the sum of its parts. God created this world and therefore when Church and World come together to try to serve the community it is often the case that something with that X factor happens. To use a worldly phrase the Church brings added value. Maybe you might like to think of how the Church might bring added value to your life.
Partnership of church with church and Church with Community can be one of the most terrific things, even though it can have deep challenges and is rarely easy. But then most things worth having are worth the struggle to get to them.