Newsletter December 2023

Longing for Light

columbaDear Friends

I’m writing this letter just before 4 o’clock and it’s getting dark already! At this time of the year in the UK, we often only have 7 or 8 hours of daylight every day. Oh, how it makes me crave the long, light nights of summer.

However, this darkness pales in comparison when we acknowledge the darkness of the news: where we see and hear the ongoing war in Israel/Palestine, Ukraine and beyond; the destructiveness of climate change, the suffering of refugees on unsafe boats and camps. There is also the darkness in our lives: in the midst of illness and grief; the cost of living crisis.

And yet in our darkness, God will meet us there. In our darkness, God is present. A God of faith, hope and love. A God revealed in Jesus.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus was born into a world characterised by the occupation and oppression of the Roman Empire. An Empire which impacted on so many parts of a person’s life and must have felt like it could last forever.

We talk about Jesus’ coming into the world, as light shining in darkness. The light of Jesus reveals how darkness in our lives and world can be overcome. To quote one of the Gospel writers, John: “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it”.

Christmas is about Jesus Christ entering the pain and darkness of every time and place, including ours, to bring light. A light of faith, hope and love that each and every one of us, can share with our families, our communities, our world.

This Advent, churches across the Leeds URC Partnership, including our own, will be singing the chorus of the hymn: “Longing for light, we wait in darkness” by Bernadette Farrell, to accompany our Advent candle lighting.
The chorus is:

Christ be our light
Shine in our hearts
Shine in the darkness
Christ be our light
Shine in your world waiting today.

So, my hope and prayer is that Jesus’ light can provide each and every one of us with peace and hope this Christmas.


3rd SUNDAY 10.45am Morning Worship for the first Sunday in Advent, and our Gift Service, led by Rev Phil Chilvers. We shall be joined by our friends from Headingley Methodist Church
Advent Lunch
10th SUNDAY 9.30am Joint Carol Service at Headingley Methodist Church
12th Tuesday 12.30pm Guild Lunch
14th Thursday 7.30pm Blue Christmas Service on Zoom
17th SUNDAY 10.45am Christmas Carol Service led by Rev Phil Chilvers
24th SUNDAY 10.45am A Service for Christmas Eve led by Rev Angela Hughes
25th Monday 10.30am CHRISTMAS DAY WORSHIP led by Rev Phil Chilvers
31st SUNDAY 10.45am Morning Worship led by Mr Alex Walker, South Leeds URC

OUR GIFT SERVICE will be held on 3rd December. The Elders have discussed the viability of a children’s party and have come to the conclusion that our resources can be better used by donating money to the Women’s Refuge to enable them to buy gifts for the older children as this is the age group usually excluded. Donations of toiletries and toys are also acceptable. The Salvation Army will also be supported.
Susan Bollon


There came a knock on the stable door and the infant turned his head,
‘I only came’, said the shepherd boy, ‘to see that the lamb was fed.’

Another knock sounded loud and clear, and the baby looked around.
‘We only came’, said the three wise men, ‘to see that the king was crowned.’

A hail of knocking upon the door as the star turned pale at dawn.
‘We only came’ said the populace, ‘when we heard the Christ was born.’

No knock, no flute, and no fanfare blown, no banner bright unfurled.
‘I only came’, said the infant Lord, ‘bringing peace throughout the world.’


Christmas is a time for joy and memories – and many have more than a tinge of sadness as we remember friends and family that we miss. We have members of our church family that we shall miss particularly this year and one of these is Doreen Sowden. Most years, toward the end of November, Doreen would hand me a sheet of paper with a Christmas poem and the words ‘only if you have room’. There was always room for one of her thoughtful poems which often paint a picture in words.


advent flyerOver four weeks, we will come together with people from across the Leeds URC Partnership, and watch key scenes of the film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ alongside reflecting on our own relationships with God.

It’s not compulsory but if you would find it helpful, the book that the course is based on is available to buy here:

For more information, please email Nicola –


Christmas isn’t Christmas in our house without some version of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ – even the Muppets will do, but going back to the written word makes you realise why this story of redemption has lasted. (In reality, it is hard to beat Alastair Sim!)

‘Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind-stone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, . . . He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dogdays; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.

‘Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious! Glorious!’’

christmas carol“Do you know the Poulterer’s, in the next street but one, at the corner?” Scrooge inquired.

“I should hope I did,” replied the lad.

“An intelligent boy!” said Scrooge. “A remarkable boy! Do you know whether they’ve sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there?–Not the little prize Turkey: the big one?”

“What, the one as big as me?” returned the boy.

“What a delightful boy!” said Scrooge. “It’s a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck!”

“I’ll send it to Bob Cratchit’s!” whispered Scrooge, rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. “He sha’n’t know who sends it. It’s twice the size of Tiny Tim”


blue christmasBLUE CHRISTMAS

A gentle, reflective service for anyone who finds this time of the year difficult, who misses someone, or who wants to spend some time remembering.


At 7.30pm on ZOOM

Meeting ID 7019277749


christmas candle


We shall be holding our traditional Christmas Lunch on Tuesday, 12th December, meeting, as usual, at 12.30pm for lunch at 1 o’clock.

Please let us know if you would like to join us – you are most welcome!

The cost of the lunch is £5.



It is not possible for all our members to send Christmas cards each year but their wishes are just as warm.

So, Roger and Janette ‘Wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year’.

Similarly, Pauline Hood and Liz Brown send you all their ‘Best Wishes.’


Each year the URC produces a calendar with a theme. Two years ago, the monthly pictures were of URC churches and Ian Lawrie’s photograph of our church was accepted, and this year the theme is ‘Creativity in our Churches’ and two images – one of Sadie Bower’s picture of The Creation and one of a Church Banner have been included. Aleck has a few copies if you are interested and would be able to purchase more. The price is just £1.


There are lots of Christmas Short Stories; here is an extract about a party to be avoided-

readerReginald’s Christmas Revel’ by Saki On Christmas evening we were supposed to be specially festive in the Old English fashion. The hall was horribly draughty, but it seemed to be the proper place to revel in, and it was decorated with Japanese fans and Chinese lanterns, which gave it a very Old English effect. A young lady with a confidential voice favoured us with a long recitation about a little girl who died or did something equally hackneyed, and then the Major gave us a graphic account of a struggle he had with a wounded bear. I privately wished that the bears would win sometimes on these occasions; at least they wouldn’t go vapouring about it afterwards . . .

If you have a moment, look up Laurie Lee’s memory of the church choir going ‘Carol Barking’ from Cider with Rosie. It is a piece of Christmas joy.