Category Archives: Advent

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.

Light in the darkness

Richard Rohr, spiritual writer and Franciscan friar, writes a daily blog which is shared worldwide. At the moment he is talking about darkness, particularly apposite not just because of winter and our waiting in Advent for the light of the world, but because we are living through dark, divisive times. Perhaps we always have. The message of light in the darkness echoes through the ages.

Here is what he has written today:

‘The darkness of this world will never totally go away. I’ve lived long enough and offered spiritual direction enough to know that darkness isn’t going to disappear, but that, as John’s Gospel says, “the light shines on inside of the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it” (1:5). This is our own belief in paradox and mystery, the Christian form of yin/yang.

‘We must all hope and work to eliminate suffering, especially in many of the great social issues of our time. We work to eliminate world hunger. We strive to stop wasting the earth’s resources. We peacefully fight to end violence. We don’t ignore or capitulate to suffering, yet we must allow it to transform us and the world. Suffering often shapes and teaches us and precedes most significant resurrections.

‘The power of suffering is surely our creative and courageous relationship to it. Most of us have not been given the “winnowing fan” of discernment that John the Baptist ascribes to Jesus (see Matthew 3:12). For the most part, hard and fast laws are not a winnowing fan. Laws rush us to judgment instead of the slow sifting of prayer, context, and motivation. The most common way to release our inner tension is to cease calling evil what it is and to pretend it is actually not that bad. Another way to release our inner tension is to stand angrily, obsessively against evil—but then we become a cynic and unbeliever ourselves. Everyone can usually see this but us!

‘Christian wisdom names the darkness as darkness and the Light as light and helps us learn how to live and work in the Light so that the darkness does not overcome us. If we have a pie-in-the-sky, everything is beautiful attitude, we are going to be trapped by the darkness because we don’t see clearly enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. Conversely, if we can only see the darkness and forget the more foundational Light, we will be destroyed by our own negativity and fanaticism, or we will naively think we are completely apart and above the darkness. Instead, we must wait and work with hope inside of the darkness, even our own—while never doubting the light that God always is, and that we are too (Matthew 5:14). That is the narrow birth canal of God into the world—through the darkness and into an ever-greater Light. It seems we must all let go of our false innocence to find that “God alone is good” (Mark 10:18).’

To find out more and to sign up to Richard Rohr’s meditations, visit the Centre for Action and Contemplation, cac.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

false innocence to find that “God alone is good” (Mark 10:18).

Pray Your Way this Advent

Find out how to Pray Your Way with our Advent series on Tuesday evening this month.

The series of three sessions is deigned to give new insights into ways of praying.

The first, on Tuesday, December 3, at 7.30pm, is “Unlocking Prayer”: a practical introduction to a method of theological reflection which can shine a light on puzzling things in our lives, and will be led by Lesley Shatwell.

On December 10, Craig Nobbs will lead “Holy Reading”: The contemplative monastic discipline of Lectio Divina, showing how this practice can dovetail into everyday life.

On December 17, Stella Wiseman will help you to “Write yourself into the story …” Taking a passage from the Bible you can learn how to think yourself into a story.

Each session will start at 7.30pm and will take place at Lesley Shatwell’s home in Badshot Lea. For details, contact Lesley on 01252 314703 or llm.lesley@badshotleaandhale.org or email the parish office.

Celebrating Christingle

Advent has begun, and what better way to begin it at St Mark’s than with a Christingle service?

The idea of the Christingle – where the story of God’s love and care for the world is told through the symbols of an orange, red ribbon, fruit and sweets and a candle – goes back almost 275 years to a church in Germany. These days it is usually associated with The Children’s Society which exists to help children suffering from poverty, neglect and danger in the UK.

Children and adults joined in to make their Christingles at St Mark’s on Advent Sunday and sang the Christingle song which reminds us that the orange represents the world, the red ribbon symbolises the love and blood of Christ, the sweets and dried fruit represent all of God’s creations, and the lit candle represents Jesus’s light in the world, bringing hope to people living in darkness.

There were special prayers too, including this one:

We pray for children growing up in families struggling to make ends meet.

Lord Jesus, it hurts to think about this. Part of us would rather not. We’d rather look away. Help us to reach out, and come alongside them. We thank you for the Christingle and the ribbon that represents your loving sacrifice, wrapping itself around the world.

We ask you to wrap your loving arms around each child in need today. Be close to each one who doesn’t have enough of the basic things they need, who is avoiding telling a parent or carer to avoid causing more stress; or who is frightened of what might happen or of people finding out how hard things are at home.

We ask you to keep opening our eyes to see them and help them, directly in our communities, and through the work of The Children’s Society throughout our country.

Come, Lord Jesus,

Hear our prayer.

For more on The Children’s Society, visit www.childrenssociety.org.uk/

Come to Christingle

Come to Christingle this Sunday, December 1, at St Mark’s Church, Alma Lane, at 11am.

Christingle is a celebration that takes place sometime between the beginning of December, which is when Advent begins, and February 2.

‘Christingles’ are created out of oranges, sweets and dried fruit stuck in them using cocktail sticks, red ribbon around the oranges and a candle which is then lit. At this point, Bob, the churchwarden who is also responsible for health and safety, looks anxious and claims we are going to burn the church down but we are sure he’s joking (aren’t you Bob?!), and we are always safe.

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, and the lit candle represents Jesus’s light in the world, bringing hope to people living in darkness.

There are prayers and songs and a lot of fun and it’s aimed at everyone in the family. Come along at 11am, join in and also raise money for the charity The Children’s Society.