Category Archives: Children and Youth

Five year plan

Where will we be in five years?

The PCC is putting together a five-year plan to help us become stronger as a parish.

There are three strands to the plan:

  • Outreach – enabling our churches to be more accessible and relevant to our communities, and making sure we are engaged fully at the heart of our communities;
  • Youth – ensuring we engage with young people of all ages in our communities;
  • Finance – ensuring we have a strong financial base from which to minister.

Each year we will have targets to ensure we are on track and there will be groups set up to help guide these three strands. You will hear lots more about this and if you want to help out in these areas please let me know Lesley know on 01252 820537 or revd.lesley@badshotleaandhale.org.

Where do magic reindeer come from? A story for Christmas Eve

Where do magic reindeer come from? You know, the ones that pull Father Christmas and his sleigh.

They come from the earth. You have to plant them first though.

You buy them at a market stall. Not any old market stall. It will be hidden round the back, or down a side alley. You’ll know when you find it.

But what do they look like?

They’re small and brown and slightly grubby, like little potatoes, but look carefully and you will see their little antlers, and their tiny, closed eyes.

Carry them home carefully, sing gently as you do.

What shall I sing?

Sing lullabies and songs of sleep, rock them in your arms.

What shall I do then?

Choose a patch of sweet brown earth and dig each one a hole. Make it small and make it snug, a warm, dark nest for each to sleep.

Pop each one in and cover them with a blanket of leaves and sticks. But leave a little gap, so that the wind can blow gently on them, the rain can give them water and the sun can warm their fur.

Is that all?

Oh no, that’s only half the work.

Each day you must go and sing to them and check their little beds. Gather more leaves to keep them safe, whisper to them about the skies above and how they soon will fly.

As winter comes and the earth grows cold, the little reindeer begin to stir. They grow and stretch and twitch and dream.

What do they dream?

They dream about the skies above and magical lands full of colour and light. They dream about the stars and moon and snow and ice and galloping hooves.

And then what happens?

When the days grow short and the nights grow long, when the sun is weak and the frost is hard, then she comes.

Who comes?

The Reindeer Queen of course. She flies at night and finds a tall and rocky hill, high above the land below, where she can see the reindeer beds.

And then she sings.

What does she sing?

She sings a song of sparkling stars, of fields of snow and a moon so bright; of  hooves that dance and prance and spring above the clouds; of gifts all wrapped and piled high in a sledge so long. She sings of a magical man, with beard so white and eyes so bright. She sings a song of love and joy.

And then they come.

Who comes?

The reindeer. They burst from their beds of earth and leaves, they scatter the sticks across the ground, they stretch and shake the soil from their backs, and then they leap towards the sky. They leap and leap and they leave the ground and gallop through the air towards her call. And she waits for them on her high hill and they dance around her in joy and fun.

She touches each one, nose to nose, and then she sings, a long, sweet note. The reindeer hush and each one stills and then, as the note reaches its end, they turn as one. Together they rise into the sky and bound through the air on their strong brown legs.

They follow the Queen through the stars of the night, feeling the cold on their fur-covered backs. Their eyes gleam bright and their antlers stand tall as they swoop and soar over the earth.

Where do they go?

Why to the north of course to the land of snow, the land of magic and kindness and dreams. They follow her there through all that night and then at last they see a light. A light that shines by a tall, broad house, with a pointy roof and fields around.

Is that where Father Christmas lives?

The very same. He stands at the door in his warm red coat and waves to the reindeer as they circle above. And gently, gently the Queen floats down and lands by the house to greet her friend. He strokes her nose and she moves away while each of her followers, one by one, comes to rest and does the same.

So Father Christmas strokes them too and then they move off to feed and rest, ready for the time, a few nights hence, when they will fly again through the starry night.

Will that be Christmas?

Yes, on Christmas Eve they will fly again, but this time they will have a job to do, a job so important they must first rest, a job so important they must be strong.

For they must pull that heavy sleigh, far through the skies across the earth. They must fly through the air across the moon and land on roofs with gentle hooves. The off again, up over the towns, the villages, cities, the far remote farms. On and on through the Christmas night, bringing the magic both far and wide.

And can I see them?

If you wait, silent and still, watch at your window as the night draws on; if you listen hushed and calm, listen for the sound of beating hooves. And if you wish, and hold your breath, perhaps you will see then flying by.

Or if you sleep, perhaps you will dream, dream of the reindeer high above.

And when you wake you will know they have been, pulling their sleigh with presents for you. And when you wake you will know one more thing, that on Christmas morning the magic is real.

Carols in the Night

A wonderful evening of carols, readings and prayers in the churchyard at St John’s yesterday. Huge thanks to all who took part, including the Mayor of Farnham, Cllr Pat Evans; Farnham Heath End School; Waverley Singers; Farnham Brass Band; the St John’s Choir; and the Cogger family who provided the PA system.

Come along to St Mark’s, Alma Lane, Hale, tomorrow (Friday) and St George’s, Badshot Lea, on Sunday, both at 6pm, for more of the same.

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

Baptisms are back!

Families are returning to church for baptisms in the parish after months of delay thanks to Covid-19. The first baptism in the parish took place on Sunday, August 23, when little Archie Higginson (pictured with his parents above) was baptized at St John’s, and this is being followed this month by the baptism of two sisters, one of whom was born in lockdown, and a further one booked for October.

The baptisms all take place in the main Sunday services and there are strict rules on hygiene, social distancing and wearing masks but this didn’t detract from one-year-old Archie’s baptism. “It all went well,” said Archie’s mother Nola. “It was a bit strange wearing face masks but it felt like a proper baptism and we felt welcomed into the church.” She also sought to allay other families’ fears about not being able to invite family and friends to the service. “We were able to invite everyone we wanted to and Archie enjoyed it too. I thought he’d wriggle more as he doesn’t like being still but he was fine.”

On September 27 we will welcome little Isabella and Eden Argenti. Two-year-old Isabella was to have been baptized in May but now her baby sister Eden, who was born in June, will be baptized at the same time. Isabella and Eden’s mother Rose, who is one of the regular readers in our online all-age service, said: “We were so happy to hear when the churches were able to reopen, and after welcoming our second daughter during lockdown, we are very much looking forward to having both our girls now baptized together at St John’s this month and welcoming them into the church.”

Lesley Crawley baptized Archie and will baptize the sisters. She said: “We are so pleased to be able to hold baptisms in the services again. Obviously, there are differences because of Covid restrictions but these don’t detract from what is a very special and joyous occasion of welcoming someone into the church and beginning their new life as part of the Christian community.”

Adults as well as children can be baptized and baptisms take place in the main service as baptism symbolises the entry of a person into the life and family of the church. The services all have anti-Covid measures put in place.

To enquire about baptisms, please contact Stella Wiseman on 07842761919.

Pictured top are Nola and Matthew Higginson with Archie.

Children welcome in church

We would love to welcome children back to church now that we have started services in the buildings again.

There is plenty of space in the churches and there are places for families to sit in their ‘bubbles’. Please, though, bring your own toys, books, colouring books, colours, snacks and drinks etc, and we ask that you don’t share between families.

There is a relatively formal service at St John’s at 9.30am, an informal service at St George’s at 10am and a very informal service at St Mark’s at 11am.

Please join us.

Picture by Dawn Hudson

Safer recruitment

Lesley and Alan recently undertook some safeguarding training, and were reminded that the reason that the church sometimes does things differently is because most organisations can safeguard by exclusion – if they think that someone might be a risk they exclude them.  The church is inclusive and welcomes all. However, the impact of this is that we need different procedures to other organisations. 

The training was about Safer Recruitment, and one of the facts we were given was that other voluntary groups are getting better at this, and if the church doesn’t also do so we will become the most likely place for malevolent people to seek to infiltrate their way in.

All people helping with church activities which involve children or vulnerable adults should be “safely recruited”.  We have a large number of people who have taken on roles over many years without this.  It is within the PCCs authority to accept all those currently in role and implement this for those going forwards.

Safe recruitment says that for those roles which involve children or vulnerable adults:

A role description should be written;
The role should be advertised (not essential for volunteer roles);
An interview (which could be an informal chat for volunteer roles);
References should be taken;
There should be an ongoing oversight role;
A confidential declaration should be completed;
A review should determine whether a DBS is required.

If you would like to know more, please contact Alan.

Picture by  Gerd Altmann from Pixabay