We are approaching the end of Advent and the time is drawing near when we will greet God in human form – Jesus, born into poverty in an occupied land, part of a family forced to flee as refugees into another country, a baby who grew up to offer us the light of God’s love then, now and through all time.
Craig Nobbs, Licensed Lay Minister in the parish, has created a series of Advent Reflections which you can listen to here.
The December and January magazine is out now, bringing you up-to-date with news and events in the parish, plus seasonal reflections and prayer, sources of help over the winter, and information on local groups and businesses.
There is a list of services over Christmas – please do join us – the background to Epiphany, Christingles, a Snowman Drive, events and lots more. Click on the link to download it below.
And don’t forget to let us have your news and articles. This is your magazine!
Wishing you a joyful Christmas and a blessed 2023.
Family service, with carols, for all ages – December 4th, 4pm
Come to our family service on Sunday, December 4th at 4pm at St John’s, and help us create an Advent wreath, and sing Christmas carols.
All ages are welcome at the service – not just families with children – and we need your help to create the wreath. There will be carols and prayers and it will be followed by sandwiches and cakes (see the picture below…)
This Advent, Craig Nobbs, an LLM in the parish, is running a series of Advent Reflections, starting with a Quiet Morning on Saturday, November 26th, from 9am until noon in the Sumner Room at St John’s, and continuing with drop-in sessions at St George’s on Thursdays in Advent from 6.30-8pm.
The Quiet Morning will start with a short act of morning prayer, followed by two or three short readings and reflections, plus time to stop and listen. You can slip in and out quietly if you can’t be there for the whole time.
On the Thursday evenings Craig will be in St George’s Church from 6.30-8pm and will offer an Advent Quiet Time interspersed with prayers and readings every 15 minutes or so. This makes it possible to come even if for a short time, and leave when you wish.
Craig says: “It’s healthy to take time out to stop and think about what Advent might reveal to us as individuals and potentially, as a church. Advent can be about listening and waiting for God to show something of himself to us, however brief. So, how do we wait for God? I’m providing some opportunities to help you take time out and hopefully rediscover how we begin to do so in what are busy times.”
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 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
Shepherd 2: “What are all those pretty red flowers over there?” Sheep: “Flowers? Where? Let us at them.”
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!”
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?”
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…”
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!”
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!”)
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.
Mary: “Come on boys, all together now… ‘Away in a manger, no crib for a bed…’
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.”
Shepherd 1: “Did anyone remember to bring a football? That’s a great field over there.”
Small pause while everyone looks.
King 3: “Hey! That’s my hat! It’s pure silk! Gerroff!”
Joseph: “There’s only one top lady for me – that’s you Mary.” Mary: “You daft old softie!”
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.”
Time for a drop of refreshment. Shepherd 1: “Do you think they serve Shepherd’s Neame?”
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.”
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!”
Summoned by bells – the Knitivity characters stop for a rest somewhere in Hale.
Watch out! There’s a Knitivity about. Please drive slowly.
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”.
Sing all together now:
On the second day of Advent the shepherds said ‘oh dear, I think we are low on petrol’ .
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.”
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.
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’.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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:
Reading a prayer
Reading a poem
It will be lovely to see you there.
Serving the Villages North of Farnham: Badshot Lea, Hale, Heath End & Weybourne