Around 150 people joined the celebration: children and teenagers with their families, young staff and volunteers from the Ignite youth team, as well as priests and religious from across the Diocese involved in youth work.
Candles artistically arranged around the church of Our Lady of the Annunciation reflected the theme and created a peaceful ambiance as families arrived: flames on wreaths and an Advent ring balancing the multi-coloured sparkle of Christmas tree lights.
A phalanx of light grew on each side of the altar as participants each brought a night light to symbolise their renewed commitment to Christ.
The preacher, Fr Alan Hodgson from St Mary’s Ipswich, spoke of the Wise Men whose direction in life was changed by their encounter with the child Jesus.
“The Wise Men,” he said, “had a conversion of their own and ‘went home by a different route.’ They would have spoken of all they had seen… and so, in a small way, became the first missionaries of the Christmas message. So too, when we see the face of Christ and touch him, our lives can never be the same again.
“Instead of offering Christ a gift this Epiphany, let us rather commit ourselves to the light that is Christ – a light that breaks all darkness; that of sin and the darkness of the heavens too. Let us spend time getting to know Christ better, through prayer, Scripture, spending quiet time with him and discerning our vocation.”
Bishop Alan was the Chief Celebrant of the Mass which was also concelebrated by the Chaplain of the University of East Anglia, Fr Andrew Eburne. The Rev Peter Wygnanski, a long-term member of the diocesan youth team and who is due to be ordained priest in July, was the Deacon at the Mass. The preacher Fr Alan was himself ordained as priest last July.
Daniel Justin, Director of Music at St John’s Cathedral, led the music of the Mass complemented by the music group from St George’s Sprowston, who sang ‘Christ by our Light’ accompanied by guitar, flute and clarinet.
The light theme continued after Mass as floodlights and fairy lights guided the families, who filed into the Bishop’s House garden, where volunteers served them with hot dogs (including vegetarian) and a delicious citrus-mix punch.
A bonfire and hot chocolate rounded off the evening, with an impressive firework display scattering sparks of yellow and white, red and mauve. It was especially bountiful this year, thanks to a generous donation of fireworks from a supporter of the event.
Click here to see a full picture gallery of the event or see below. Pictures by Keith Morris.