I have to confess that I missed it. It was Carols in the park at Hailsham recreation ground and it was an event for all the churches and people in the town organised by Hailsham Free Church. I was otherwise engaged with services in my own church but I made sure that my folks knew about it in case people could go.
All our churches have many services and events but it is really important when people from different churches come together to worship. At Hellingly for example, last Saturday we had a wonderful praise concert with our brothers and sisters from Eastbourne Salvation Army. Over the years I have shared some precious moments with brothers and sisters of different churches like when I took part in a holiday camp open air event some years ago. A man came up and indicated he was from Hungary and was a Christian, and shook my hand. His English was nonexistent. Nothing else was said, but the handshake bound us in a common unity of faith.
Jesus prayed in the gospels that all Christians should truly be as one. There are of course many churches of different flavours. The differences are really just cosmetic; substantial but still only cosmetic. The supporting structure for our churches is the same for us all, and is belief in the gift of Jesus, the Son of God coming to earth to bring us salvation and new life through his death on the cross and his resurrection.
We are incredibly privileged in our country to have the wide variety and choice of churches that we can attend. Some people prefer the quiet meditative type of service, while others want the ‘Full Monty’ of guitars, drums and dancing in order to worship, with any variation between! There are as well variations like the balance between the importance of the Bible over and against that of history and tradition. But underneath is still the fundamental necessity to acknowledge the status of Jesus and his reign over us, and when better to do that than at Christmas?
Across Sussex there are many groupings of different denominations like Churches Together in Eastbourne and Crosslink in Hailsham. We frequently meet as ministers in Hailsham and I know that there is a growing hope among many in our town that there will be more opportunities to meet together as Christians of different churches.
It is my prayer that Christians meet together more and more. The fractures between Christians are what can further lead to the decline of the Christian Church in the west. Only by being truly united can we show the world just how important the person of Jesus is.