Category Archives: Advent

Your December/January magazine is here

It’s Advent and time for the latest magazine from the parish, full of Advent, Christmas and New Year events.

There are services – of course – a Christmas community market complete with Hale’s Angels, Father Christmas and a Christmas Tree Festival, carol concerts, not one but two Christingles, A Journey to Bethlehem, a panto, Messy Church… plus news, opinions and ideas. Download it now!

Come and sing carols!

Advent is upon us, Christmas is coming! As we approach the celebration of the birth of Jesus, God on earth with us in human form, the parish is holding a number of carol services so there is plenty of opportunity to sing favourite carols at your nearest church.

First we start with Carols by Candlelight, a lovely service of traditional carols and readings with the church lit by candles.

These will be at 6pm on the following dates:
Sunday 5th St George’s
Friday 10th  St Mark’s
Sunday 12th St John’s

Then join us under the stars for Carols by Starlight in the grounds of each church at 6.30pm on the following dates:

Wednesday 15th St George’s
Thursday 16th St John’s
Tuesday 21st St Mark’s

Please join us and sing of the joy and light of the world.

Come with us on a Journey to Bethlehem

Once again we are going on a ‘Journey to Bethlehem’ this Christmas.

A Journey to Bethlehem is a short re-enactment of the journey Mary and Joseph took to Bethlehem on the first Christmas, complete with angels, shepherds and kings.

At 6.30pm on Wednesday, December 8, two groups of adults and children will meet at St Mark’s and St George’s, and make their way to St John’s. Among the groups will be shepherds, angels, kings, donkeys, Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus, and on the way they will meet more members of the traditional Nativity cast, including an innkeeper with no room at the inn, and a star to guide them.

Everyone is invited to join them on the route and to join in the carol singing as they go.

The two groups will converge on St John’s for a short service, followed by refreshments.

Lesley Crawley said: “This will be a lovely reminder of the Christmas story for children and adults alike. Come and join us as we remember the journey that Mary and Joseph had to make, and Jesus’s humble birth when God came to earth in human form. Another name for Jesus is ‘Emmanuel’ which means ‘God with us’ and that is just what this Christmas story is all about.”

Everyone is invited to arrive at either St Mark’s or St George’s at 6.30pm, ready to journey to St John’s. Children are particularly encouraged to wear nativity costumes with suitable footwear for winter weather. There will be marshals but please also bring torches to light the way.

Make a Christingle with us

Come to St Mark’s on Sunday, December 5, at 11am and make a Christingle.

Christingles are a tradition whereby the story of God’s love for the world, shown in Jesus Christ, is told using an orange, a candle, a red ribbon and dried fruits and/or sweets.

Each element of a Christingle has a special meaning:

·  The orange represents the world;

·  The red ribbon (or tape) symbolises the love and blood of Christ;

·  The sweets and dried fruit represent all of God’s creations;

·  The lit candle represents Jesus’s light in the world.

The word Christingle comes from the German word ‘Christkindl’, meaning ‘Little Christ Child’.

The service has its origin in the Moravian church in the 18th century. The Children’s Society has explored the origins of the Christingle service and its website states: “At a children’s service in Marienborn in 1747, Bishop Johannes de Watteville looked for a simple way to explain the happiness that had come to people through Jesus, and created a symbol — the Christingle — to do this”.

Christingle services are also a way of raising money and awareness for the Children’s Society which works to support vulnerable children across the  UK. You can find out more here: www.childrenssociety.org.uk/

Join the Christingle

Join us this Sunday (December 6), in church or online, for a Christingle service.

Christingles are a tradition where the story of God’s love for the world, shown in Jesus Christ, is told using an orange, a candle, a red ribbon and dried fruits and/or sweets. The word comes from the German word ‘Christkindl’, meaning ‘Little Christ Child’. You can find out more here.

The Christingle service in church will be at St Mark’s, Alma Lane, at 11am.

If you can’t come to the service, you can join in our online Christingle service which will be here at 10.30am, and if you want to make a Christingle, you will need an orange, red tape or ribbon, four cocktail sticks, some dried fruit or sweets, a piece of silver foil and a candle. You might also find a knife and a wooden spoon useful.

The Knitivity Challenge

It’s the Knitivity Challenge.

Every day the members of the Nativity story are making their way around the parish, through Badshot Lea, Weybourne, Heath End, Hale and back again. Where are they?

Day 25:

The friends arrive at their final destination. Tired, a little footsore but happy, they gather round and give thanks for the whole reason that they undertook the journey – the birth of the baby Jesus.

Mary leads them in singing Joy to the World, and the baby Jesus smiles.

Day 24:

The shepherds take the sheep off for some extra grazing.
Shepherd 2: “Look girls! A place to call home.”
Sheep: “Baaaaa!” Some of them even do a little skip for joy as if they were young lambs again. Life is good, life is hopeful.

Day 23:

Even Mary is tempted to ask ‘are we nearly there yet?” but like women the world over she just gets on with it. Sometimes she wonders if that is a good thing to do and resolves to chat to her cousin Elizabeth about it, once both their children are older. In the meantime they seek refuge in the grounds of a large house with a smiling man and woman. There are also three young men there. They are quite noisy. Mary suspects that the men she is travelling with were once like that. She suspects her son will be too. She smiles.

Day 22:

The friends arrive at a large building which looks like it has an interesting history.
Shepherd 2: “My grandparents used to pick hops and dry them in a place like this.”
King 1: “Hold on. I’ll have a look on my phone. See what I can find out.”
Mary: “Do you use the sat nav on that? Only, you said you navigated by the stars.”
King 2: “He was give a phone for his birthday and insisted on trying it out.”

Day 21:

The friends have been travelling for three weeks now and it has been a long way on little feet. Thankfully there are local shops to help them on their way.
Mary: “Doughnuts! I want doughnuts.”
Joseph: “Do you think they are nutritio…” Catches sight of Mary’s expression… “Of course darling.”

Day 20:

Shepherd 2: “What are all those pretty red flowers over there?”
Sheep: “Flowers? Where? Let us at them.”

Day 19:

Another day on the road, another need to stop for refreshments.

Shepherd 1: “Are the pubs still open then?”
Mary: “Yes, we’ve just scraped into Tier 2.”
Joseph: “Well that’s a miracle!”

Day 18:

King 4: “Are we nearly there yet?”
Mary: “Not far. Let’s play a game to keep our spirits up. I spy with my little eye, something beginning with…. C.”
King 2: “Cow!”
Shepherd 2: “I’ve told you before – they are sheep.”
King 2: “Of course, sorry, um camel?”

Day 17:

The friends come across a big house.
King 1: “Just like my place back at home.”
King 2: “He wishes, he’s got a semi in North Camp.”
Shepherd 2: “I thought you lot came from the East.”
King 1: “Well, it’s a little bit to the east…”

Day 16:

Joseph: “Are you sure that this is the right way in?”
Shepherd 1: “It’s all about social distancing – you can’t go in the same way as you go out.”
Joseph: “Yes, but the window…?”
Sheep: “Flowers. Yum!”

Day 15:

Mary: “That looks like a lovely school for when he’s finished at that first little school down the road.”

Joseph sighs but then he catches sight of Mary’s expression.

Joseph: “Ok, OK, make a note of the telephone number and I’ll give them a call.” (Mutters under breath: “But he’s only a baby!”)

Day 14:

The friends stop off for a rest again. The Kings are rather keen on the idea of the café but the Shepherds have spotted the word ‘pets’ and wonder if there is any hay available for the sheep.

Baby Jesus likes the idea of small pets like rabbits.

Day 13:

Mary: “Come on boys, all together now…
‘Away in a manger, no crib for a bed…’

Day 12:

The friends spot a local watering hole. Mary has to explain to them that they will need a substantial meal if they want a drink too.

She adds: “And I definitely need a substantial meal and a nice glass of water. I’ve got to keep the little one fed.”

Day 11:

Shepherd 1: “Did anyone remember to bring a football? That’s a great field over there.”

Small pause while everyone looks.

Then:

King 3: “Hey! That’s my hat! It’s pure silk! Gerroff!”

Day 10:

Joseph: “There’s only one top lady for me – that’s you Mary.”
Mary: “You daft old softie!”

Day 9:

Mary: “I wonder if our little lad would like to go to that lovely looking school over there?”
Joseph (thinks): “He’s just a baby, surely he’ll never be big enough to go to school.”

Day 8:

Time for a drop of refreshment.
Shepherd 1: “Do you think they serve Shepherd’s Neame?”

Day 7:

After a week on the road the friends are wondering whether it would be sensible to catch a train.
King 2: “Has anyone got a friends and family railcard?”
Shepherd 1: “Do you think the sheep will be allowed?”
Mary: “Will you lot stop talking and let me check the timetable.”

Day 6:

The Knitivity friends are grateful for something to rest on after a day’s walk.
Joseph: “I must make a note of this in my log book. Boom! Boom!”
The shepherds and kings all laugh.
Mary: “Men, eh!”

Day 5:

Summoned by bells – the Knitivity characters stop for a rest somewhere in Hale.

Day 4:

Watch out! There’s a Knitivity about. Please drive slowly.

Day 3:


King 1: “Do you think the Co-Op sells camel food?”

Shepherd 2: “I don’t know but at least you are already wearing masks to go in there and ask”.

Day 2:

Sing all together now:

On the second day of Advent the shepherds said ‘oh dear,
I think we are low on petrol’ .

Day 1:

King 2: “It’s warm and dry in here but it might be cold and wet out there.”

Mary: “I know but we have an important journey to go on. Be brave brother.”

Let Farnham Shine!

Every day this Advent let’s help Farnham to shine.

For many people, Christmas will look a little different this year. It will be hard for friends and families to meet up, and some of us may even find ourselves in isolation or quarantine during a season which usually brings people together. Which is why we wanted to try and spread a little joy throughout the area, and remind people they are not alone.

So join us in brightening every street by making a star to display in your window. It can be as big or small as you like, and you can use anything you have handy: paints, crayons, lights, glitter… the limit is your imagination!

We’ve chosen the symbol of a star because for us as Christians it reminds us of the star that the wise men followed to find the baby Jesus, who came to bring joy to the world. But it’s also a symbol that holds meaning for people of other faiths and none. Stars can represent hopes, dreams, wishes… all things we all need more than ever this year. We hope looking at these stars will bring light and hope to all at the end of a dark year.

Advent Carol Service

Every few months there are five Sundays in the month and we like to do something a bit different, and this coming weekend is Advent Sunday so why not celebrate with an Advent Carol Service?

Join us at 6pm here on Sunday and enjoy a mix of readings, poems, prayers and Advent carols presented by a range of people including members of Farnham Theatre Association and of Amnesty International, with a section on local woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who has been detained in Iran since 2016 on charges of “plotting to topple the Iranian government”.

It is a moving and reflective service which reminds us that in the midst of pain and darkness which so often seem to engulf the world, Jesus came to be with us, completely human and to suffer pain and sorrow, which reminds us, in the words of Godfrey Rust’s poem read in the service by Chris Reeks:

‘…then we’ll know
your sorrow may bring hope of lasting joy
and God above is God with us below’.

Photo by De an Sun on Unsplash

An Advent full of Joy

Advent is going to be a bit different this year. Normally the four services leading up to Christmas are a little bit solemn; the church is not decorated, no baptisms happen, the hymns are in a minor key. It is all about watching and waiting and hoping.

However, not this year! Let’s be honest, ever since March we have been watching and waiting and hoping – it has been the longest Advent ever. A number of people have said they have had enough of being miserable and they would like some joy in December instead. Also, as we are not having crib services or carol services in church this year, we want to invite everyone in throughout December to hear the story of Christmas.

Consequently, all the churches will have a series of family-friendly services including drama and opportunities for craft throughout December and we will be looking at characters in the Nativity:

  • 6th December – Mary and the Archangel Gabriel
  • 13th December – Shepherds and Angels
  • 20th December – Mary and Joseph
  • 25th December – birth of Jesus
  • (no service on 27th December)
  • 4th January – Magi (or Kings)

Please let Lesley know if you are willing to take part by email revd.lesley@badshotleaandhale.org or phone 01252 820537. At each of the above services there are lots of roles for adults and children and young people to get stuck into:

  • Welcoming
  • Singing
  • Reading a prayer
  • Drama
  • Reading a poem
  • Preparing crafts

It will be lovely to see you there.

Every blessing

Lesley

Advent 3 – John the Baptist

Matthew 11:2-11

What is the source of John’s question?

  • Was it asked on his own behalf, or on behalf  of others?
  • Was it a question of impatience – when was Jesus going to start judging, or was it one of misunderstanding the role of Messiah.
  • Did John know Jesus was the Messiah before he was imprisoned?  Or is it dawning on him?  This requires that we assume that the author of this pericope did not know Matthew 3:14ff.

The answers Jesus give are oblique.  One approach is to look at the political situation – If Jesus had said “yes” then Herod would have heard this on the rumour mill, and it would have been a direct challenge.  By quoting scripture Jesus can claim Messiahship without upsetting Herod.  

However, in the answers all the evidence of what Jesus is doing involves compassion and healing rather than judgement and condemnation.  John preached divine holiness with divine judgement and destruction – see last weeks winnowing fork and axe – Jesus preaches divine holiness and love.  Perhaps this is why John is asking – Jesus doesn’t match with his expectation.

Jesus questions about John are in fact a questioning of Herod – again however, without providing Herod with enough evidence to hang him.

a reed shaken by the wind can mean two things

  • a proverb for the commonest sights
  • a weak waverer

Herod’s coins had a symbol of a reed on them, and Herod himself was seen as a waverer.  John was neither of these.  People do not go out into the desert to see either.

soft/luxurious robes were the sign of a courtier – a flatterer of Kings – which was far from John.

Prophets have a message from God and the courage to deliver it.  John was certainly this.

Elijah was expected to return before the Messiah and Jesus gives him this role.

Why was John less that the least in the Kingdom of Heaven?  One interpretation is that “the least in the Kingdom of Heaven means Jesus.  But if all are considered members of the Kingdom of Heaven then John had not seen the crucifixion, the demonstration of the love of God.  As above John has been preaching destruction – hardly Good News – but Jesus preached and then lived out God’s love and all in the Kingdom of Heaven know this.