CHRISTMAS is a time for a well-earned holiday for many of us, however for Ministers across the country it is anything but.
The festive period is chock-full of one-off services, all of which have to convey important messages about the holidays and what they are about.
For Methodist Minister David Miller, Christmas is thrice as hard, as he presides over Sherston, Luckington and Sheldon Road Methodist Churches.
Having moved from Buckinghamshire in September, he will be giving his first Christmas services in Wiltshire this year.
David spoke to the Standard about how he prepares for his busiest time of the year.
“We start off thinking about the whole series of Christmas services eight weeks in advance,” he said.
“I try and put them together as a whole piece starting the Sunday before Christmas that runs through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
“I do this partly so if people come to a couple of services they’re not the same. They take different directions and look at different aspects of the Christmas story.
“There is always a huge rush of preparation in the ten days before. This year there are about eight services over seven days all of which are ‘specials’; it’s a huge preparation task.”
Writing services for what David describes as “all age worship” is another important job, so he aims to keep them “lively and brisk” to ensure the Gospel’s message is communicated to all ages.
Christmas Day itself is a day of two halves for David.
The morning starts with him leaving the house at 8.30am in time to reach his first service at Sheldon Road Methodist Church in Chippenham.
He kicks the service off and sees it through until near the end, before having to leave his worship leaders and local preachers to conclude, as he gets in his car to make his second service at Luckington for 10.30am.
Members of the Sherston congregation come over to Luckington for the Christmas Day service, which is started by other members of the church.
“Someone else will be ready to start so I don’t fly in with a minute to spare,” said David.
Once the second service is concluded 45 minutes later, David wishes the congregation a happy Christmas and then heads home for lunch with his family.
“Family stuff occurs over lunch and the afternoon,” explained David.
“Our family have developed a pattern of Christmas based around when we all get back home.
“Sometimes if there is someone taken into hospital near Christmas I’ve gone off there after lunch.”
Christmas means many different things to different people, but David believes there are some important take home messages everyone should know.
He said: “The thing I would want people to get out of the Christmas story is that god isn’t remote, but in the birth of Jesus he has stepped into the very life of the world.
“He wants people to know and wants them to be part of his family.”