REVEREND Canon Nigel Baylor has been minister at St Patrick’s Jordanstown for almost 10 years.
Throughout his 28 years in the ministry, the Cork native has had spells in Carrick, Dundela, Fermanagh and Carnmoney Parish before his move to Jordanstown.
He told the Times: “There is a very vibrant busy community in Jordanstown and everyone is very civilised, which often surprises me given how busy and congested the Jordanstown Road often is.
“We also have a very positive relationship with the other churches in the area and operate an active community outreach programme.
“We have a lot of activities and events and indeed often the church and the church hall are seen and used as a community hub.”
He continued: “In the past everybody would have thronged to church, whereas now it is more a matter of personal conviction and choice and Christmas provides us with an opportunity to reach out to people.
“We have lots of events that offer people a wide a range of opportunities to come and share Christmas with us.
“We have various carol services and special services. But one of the highlights is our Christingle on the Sunday before Christmas.”
Rev. Baylor described the Christingle as when members of the congregation take an orange and by using cocktail sticks inserted through sweets, skewer them into the orange. A red ribbon is then tied around the orange and a candle placed in the top of the fruit.
Nigel continued: “The orange represents the world, the red ribbon the blood of Christ, the sweets representing the fruits of the earth and the candle representing the light of the world.
“We hold it in a dimly lit church and as each one is light it illuminates the building creating a very special atmosphere and it really catches the young people’s imagination.
“And thankfully, despite our society becoming more secular, there are people who still attend our Christmas Day service, which is always very special and always full.”
He continued: “Christmas is a fantastically magical time of year. It’s not about us as people, but Jesus. He is the one who nurtures, saves and redeems and that really is the bottom line of Christmas.
“I love Christmas because it speaks of a God who comes down to earth and becomes one of us so that he can better understand us and our frailties.”
He went on: “People often talk about the Christmas hangover, but the reason I am here and the Church is here is to show that the joy of Christ can continue on throughout the year and the magic of Christmas does not have to end once you open up and receive the grace of God.
“Of course that’s not to say people will not have ups and downs, because they will. But they should not feel guilty of those times because God can be their rescuer.”
He added: “At Christmas I love to send and receive cards, because to me it shows someone still cares and people that feel they are not loved or that no one cares for them should know that Christ appeared for them.
“Love is one of the most basic human needs. God’s love is endless and wonderful and knows no bounds - he won’t take a mood - he is always there.”
Rev. Baylor concluded: “As a message to people I would always say go to Church at Christmas, don’t leave it out.
“Jesus is the reason for Christmas and I would encourage people to not neglect that and lose the meaning of Christmas, because it does mean a lot.
“God’s love can unlock everything else and once people accept that they can be set free.
“I have seen it here in our church. People who feel there is no hope have found the love of God and their lives have been transformed, there is nothing beyond the redemption of God and that is the real Christmas message.”