Unwrap your presents and bring them to church this Christmas. That’s the invitation from three Caversham Thameside and Mapledurham churches.

“The kids don’t need to leave their presents at home to celebrate Jesus’ birthday on Christmas Day,” says the Revd Mike Smith, Rector of Caversham Thameside and Mapledurham. “Bring your favourite present to church and show it off. Christmas starts with Christ; and Jesus and the rest of us will be just as excited as you.”

There will be Christmas morning services in all three of the Caversham Thameside and Mapledurham Parish churches: 8.00am (traditional language) and 9.30am at St Peter’s in The Warren, 9.30am at St John’s on Gosbrook Road and 11.15am at St Margaret’s in Mapledurham.

There are plenty of opportunities to get into the Christmas spirit before that, too. There’s a new version of the Christmas story on www.ctmparish.org.uk (just click on the Christmas starts with Christ gift tag). St Peter’s hosts a service of Lessons and Carols at 6.30pm on Sunday, 21 December, with some of the best singing to be heard in Reading. Then there’s Christmas Eve, starting with the manufacture of hundreds of Christingles at St Peter’s and St Margaret’s.

The decorated oranges and candles are central to the centuries-old tradition of Christingle services telling the Christmas story for all the family. Every child will receive a Christingle at the 3.00pm and 4.30pm services at St Peter’s in The Warren and the 4.30pm service at St Margaret’s, Mapledurham, on Christmas Eve. This is the most popular service of the year at St Peter’s, with hundreds filling the church twice over and donations going towards the important work of The Children’s Society. Meanwhile, St John’s will be joining Caversham Methodists and Baptists for Nativity Live. The costumed procession, recreating the Christmas story and led by two Shetland ponies, starts at Caversham Baptist Church at 4.00pm.

Midnight Mass is celebrated at 11.30pm on Christmas Eve in each of the three parish churches.

Rector Mike Smith says: “Christmas starts with Christ. You’re all invited to come and celebrate his birthday at your churches: St John’s, St Margaret’s and St Peter’s.”