The message of Christmas is everlasting – but the ways it is celebrated can change and at St Mark’s Church, Upper Hale, things look set to get messy this December.
With its elements of food, crafts and stories ‘Messy Church’ was established a decade ago to help make church more fun and accessible for families who might not ordinarily go to church – and the monthly Messy Church services at St Mark’s set up in the spring are already proving popular.
Alongside the traditional services in the Parish including the Carol Services, the Crib Services and the Midnight Mass services, this year for the first time there will be a Messy Christmas on Thursday 11 December at 3:30pm at St Mark’s Church.
And to make sure local residents don’t miss out on the opportunity to attend a service of their choice the parish will be delivering its own Christmas card to all of the 5,600 homes in the parish listing all the services.
Messy Church team leader Alison Stickland said: “Without giving too much away there will be lots of cotton wool, glitter, sticking and colouring with some seasonal cake and biscuit decorating! As well as food for thought we promise a seasonal tea, with sandwiches and jelly for little ones and adults alike. Christmas is a time to bring people together, everyone is welcome, we would love to see new faces – do come and join in the celebrations.”
Parish Priest the Revd Lesley Crawley said: “We are delighted that Messy Church has become so popular, with 40-50 people now coming along each month, aged 0 to 70. We have an amazing team of volunteers who have caught the spirit of Messy Church and indeed many of them will be out and about posting the Christmas cards in the coming weeks. Do say hello and ask them about any of our services!”
St Mark’s Church is in Alma Lane, GU9 0LT.
The members of the congregations of St George’s, St Mark’s and St John’s would like to wish everyone in the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale a very happy Christmas…. and so we decided to give everyone a Christmas Card. The photocopier is busy working flat out to produce a massive 5600 Christmas Cards! Soon the members of the congregations are going to deliver them to the 13 000 or so people in the Parish.
This year there is a new congregation – it is called Messy Church, and so there is also a Messy Christmas on Thursday 11th December at 3:30pm at St Mark’s Church, Alma Lane, GU9 0LT. Messy Church is designed for people who aren’t used to traditional church or don’t find traditional church very helpful… it explores bible stories by the use of crafts, a story and a song and then we eat a meal together. Why not give it a try?
Here are the rest of the Christmas Services to put in your diaries:
St George’s (Badshot Lea)
21st Dec at 11:30am – Family Praise Carol Service
21st Dec at 6pm – All Age Carol Service
24th Dec at 3pm – Crib Service for Toddlers
24th Dec at 5.30pm – Crib Service for all
24th Dec at 11:30pm – Midnight Mass
25th Dec at 10:00am – Family Communion
St Mark’s (Upper Hale)
11th Dec at 3:30pm – Messy Christmas involving crafts and food!
15th Dec at 6pm – Informal Carols by Candlelight
24th Dec at 5pm – Crib Service (come dressed as your favourite nativity character)
25th Dec at 11am – Informal Communion
St John’s (Hale)
14th Dec at 4pm – Nine Lessons and Carols by Candlelight
24th Dec at 3pm – Crib Service (come dressed as your favourite nativity character)
24th Dec at 11:30pm – Midnight Mass with Incense
25th Dec at 8am – Holy Communion (traditional)
25th Dec at 9:30am – Sung Eucharist
On November 9th the following services of Remembrance will take place:
In Hale the 9:30 Service at St John’s followed by 10:45 at the War Memorial then a 11:15 Joint Service at Hale Methodist Church (no service at St Mark’s).
In Badshot Lea the 10:00 Shortened Service at St George’s followed by 10:50 at the War Memorial.
In Weybourne a service at 4pm at the War Memorial followed by refreshments in the Village Hall.
You are very warmly invited to the services.
Well today we are welcoming Jesse to the Church or more specifically to the Church of England, but what does that mean?
I heard that there was a very good programme on the telly called “Midwives” or something like that… where a nurse inadvertently applied for a job at a hospital run by nuns. At the interview she was asked the question whether she had a faith, and she replied “No, I’m Church of England”.
We might think that is funny but when I was a teenager I asked my dad whether he was a Christian, to which he replied “well I’m not Muslim, am I?”
Mmm… I think there is more to being a Christian than that. I think there is even more to being a member of the Church of England than that!
We don’t become Christians by an accident of birth – it is a process of new birth. Jesus says that we become Christians by being born of the Spirit and Water. And I don’t think he was talking about having a Scotch on the rocks, as uplifting as that might be!
We become Christians by something we do – which is turning our hearts and minds to God,
Something that God does – which is giving us the Holy Spirit and Something that the Church does – which is Baptism.
So today we are baptising Jesse and we hope and pray that when he is old enough he will find God and decide to turn to God. He will then have the opportunity to be Confirmed and the Bishop will pray for him to receive the Holy Spirit.
For some people here there has never been a time when they didn’t know God in their lives through the Holy Spirit. For others, like me, the decision came later. I was an atheist, and quite an ardent atheist before I stumbled upon the church, and little by little it seemed to make sense, until the day when I had to admit to myself and to God that I believed in God. This wasn’t insignificant for me – it was a massive change in my worldview and also, I believed that if there is a God with a plan for my life then I should seek that God with all my mind, heart and soul…. And look where I ended up!
There are many metaphors in the Bible for the Church and I thought it might be helpful on this special day when we are welcoming a new member into the church to think about these Metaphors.
The first is that we are a Temple made of Living Stones. This is the only reference to a building in the New Testament – We are the Temple – us. Church doesn’t mean a cold building with uncomfortable pews and stained glass windows. Church is the people inside. Talking about uncomfortable pews – have you heard the quote by Abraham Lincoln where he said that if all the people who fell asleep in churches on a Sunday were laid end to end they would be a lot more comfortable?
But it is more exciting than that – we are living stones and when we come together we make a Holy Temple – a place perhaps where we can sense the presence of God.
Another metaphor for the church is that it is the bride of Christ – becoming part of the church is like being married to Christ. We seek to Love Christ, to walk alongside Christ. St. Augustine prayed, `You have made us for yourself, and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you.’ Finding the community of the church where together we express our love and joy in Christ is something that answered a need in me – people talk about having a God-shaped hole, and for me I found that becoming fully part of the Church answered my restless heart. It was a falling in love for me, a marriage, when I worship in church it is a desire to tell God how I feel.
The final metaphor for the church is the Body of Christ, and I think this is favourite for many of us. Each one of us has gifts and skills that we bring to the church, and today Jesse is part of this family, part of this body. Together we aim to be Christ to each other and Christ to the world.
I have found the church to be the place for authentic and profound relationships and the place where people who need healing, love, forgiveness can find it.
I’ll finish by quoting Teresa of Avila who lived way back in the sixteenth century:
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Let us together be the Body of Christ. Amen