Monday, December 19, 2011

Have yourself a safe little Christmas...

The Archdeacon of Tonbridge forwarded this to all his clergy. I am relieved to say that he did take pains to assure us it was a spoof...

"All employees planning to dash through the snow in a one horse open sleigh, going over the fields and laughing all the way are advised that a Risk Assessment will be required addressing the safety of an open sleigh for members of the public. This assessment must also consider whether it is appropriate to use only one horse for such a venture, particularly where there are multiple passengers.

Please note that permission must also be obtained in writing from landowners before their fields may be entered.

To avoid offending those not participating in celebrations, we would request that laughter is moderate only and not loud enough to be considered a noise nuisance.

Benches, stools and orthopaedic chairs are now available for collection by any shepherds planning or required to watch their flocks at night. While provision has also been made for remote monitoring of flocks by CCTV cameras from a centrally heated shepherd observation hut, all users of this facility are reminded that an emergency response plan must be submitted to account for known risks to the flocks.

The angel of the Lord is additionally reminded that, prior to shining his/her glory all around, s/he must confirm that all shepherds are wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment to account for the harmful effects of UVA, UVB and the overwhelming effects of Glory.

Following last years well-publicised case, everyone is advised that Equal Opportunities legislation prohibits any comment with regard to the redness of any part of Mr R Reindeer. Further to this, exclusion of Mr R Reindeer from reindeer games will be considered discriminatory and disciplinary action will be taken against those found guilty of this offence.

While it is acknowledged that gift bearing is a common practice in various parts of the world, particularly the Orient, everyone is reminded that the bearing of gifts is subject to Hospitality Guidelines and all gifts must be registered. This applies regardless of the individual, even royal personages. It is particularly noted that direct gifts of currency or gold are specifically precluded, while caution is advised regarding other common gifts such as aromatic resins that may evoke allergic reactions.

Finally, in the recent instance of the infant found tucked up in a manger without any crib for a bed, Social Services have been advised and will be arriving shortly."

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Village event in the Chronicle

It was good to see a lovely double page spread of pictures, and something on the front page too, from our Christmas event in the Chronicle . I'm not at all convinced that the rather long quote from me was actually what I said (more of a creative reconstruction of a Monday morning conversation with the reporter...) however, the tone was right - a good time was had by all. And the children looked lovely!

Know Your Neighbours will be meeting in January to discuss the plans for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Seal, so we look forward to seeing you then. (Dates to follow!)

Monday, December 05, 2011

Christmas Concert Thurs 22 Dec

I've had some more details of the concert on Thursday Dec 22 at 7.30pm.

It will be given by The Cambridge Consort, a group of former Choral Scholars, now mostly professional singers. Also performing will be several professional instrumentalists, including Florence Cooke, who teaches the violin at Russell House, and Vicky Hunt, former oboist with the Philharmonia Orchestra .
The concert will be in aid of the church and Crisis at Christmas, which works with homeless people in London and in other parts of the country.

The programme will include a beautiful Bach Cantata, no. 132 and plenty of seasonal music, much of it familiar, but including some less well known. It will  be a lovely occasion, perfect for the run-up to Christmas! Previous concerts this group have given in the church have been absolutely wonderful.Tickets are available in advance from Seal General Store, or on the door. If you would like to reserve tickets in advance and pay on arrival, (cash, or cheque payable to 'Cambridge Christmas Consort') then please e mail Hannah Cooke

I hope very much to see you there.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Village Christmas event

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make our Village Christmas event such a success yesterday evening. Last year we battled against snow and ice, this year it was roadworks, which made getting up to the church very difficult, but there was a good turn out, and the atmosphere was great.

Special thanks to: Linda Montgomery and the children from Seal School, who led our singing with enthusiasm and didn't seem to mind the chilly weather in their nativity costumes; John and Roz at the Five Bells who found some room at the inn for our nativity players; all those who helped at church whether getting ready for the event, manning it during the evening or packing up at the end of a long day. Thanks, of course, also to Father Christmas who helped us out so splendidly, even though it is his busy time of year...

I only managed to take one picture (I was kept busy with the children's activities in the chancel - but one child commented, with a slight air of surprise, that my colouring in was "really very good", so I was glad that I seem to have found my forte at last...) If any of you have any other pictures, send them along and I will post them here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent and Christmas at Seal Church

It's that time of year...
Christmas will soon be upon us, and we are gearing up to celebrate it here in Seal with a variety of activities and services, so I thought I would tell you about them.
Tomorrow (Thursday 1 Dec) we also have the first of our ADVENT BREATHING SPACE Holy Communion services. These take place on Thursday evenings at 8pm in the Lady Chapel in church on Thursdays 1/8/15 Dec. This very simple, small-scale, intimate Communion service is candlelit, with lots of silence and some quiet music. There will be a short talk. It is a great antidote to the busyness of Christmas.
This Friday (Dec 2), by contrast we have our VILLAGE CHRISTMAS EVENT, starting at around 3.30pm with Seal School Fete (at the school). We will then process up through the village to the Five Bells pub where we will sing carols (at around 5.30pm) and then go onto the church from 6-9pm, where there will be stalls, BBQ, and (we hope) a special, red-coated visitor in the bell-tower ready to greet any children who'd like a chat with himl...
This event was great fun last year - if you can get to any part of it, you will be very welcome.
MESSY CHURCH FOR ADVENT takes place this Sunday (4 Dec) from 4 -5.30pm in the church hall. Obviously there will be an Advent and Christmas theme to our crafts and activities - so be prepared for glitter...

On Sunday 11 Dec at 10 am we have our annual CHRISTINGLE SERVICE with Holy Communion. Each child will receive a Christingle and we will have a special collection in aid of the Children's Society.
Then on Sunday 18 Dec at 6.30pm we have our traditional CAROL SERVICE with music from the choir, readings, and plenty of carols to join in with.

A special addition to our normal programme this year is a CHRISTMAS CHORAL CONCERT at Thurs 22 Dec 7.30pm put on by the Cambridge Christmas Consort. This group of singers are very good indeed and I can commend this wholeheartedly. Tickets cost £10 and can be bought on the door. 

Then  on CHRISTMAS EVE there is a Crib Service at 4 pm, when we will build up our Christmas crib, sing carols and hear the Christmas story. This is always very popular - lots of young families - so come early to get a seat!
Our  Midnight Mass begins at 11.30 pm (the choir sing carols from 11 pm to get us in the mood), when we celebrate the arrival of the Christ Child, beginning in darkness with the lighting of the Christ Candle on our Advent Wreath.
On CHRISTMAS DAY at 10 am there is an All Age Communion, at which, as usual I will tell a story rather than preaching a sermon, so it has very much a family feel.
Having described it all I am feeling rather exhausted already... but I know it will be good, and I hope to see you there.

A couple of stories from the Church Urban Fund

Every year Seal Church gives away around 10% of its income to a variety of charities, international, national and local. It is an ancient and fundamental principle that Christians should "tithe", giving a tenth of what they have to others, and like many churches we feel that is a good thing to do  as an church as well as for individuals. One of the organisations we are giving to this year is the Church Urban Fund. I found a couple of videos on their website which tell moving stories of the world they do, so I thought I would share them.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Traffic chaos in Seal

As some of you will know there is currently traffic chaos in Seal. Road works suddenly sprang up yesterday to mend a collapsed sewer at the junction of Church Road and Childsbridge Lane (without any warning as far as I can see). Things have been changing through the day. This morning it was possible to drive around the road works. Now, however, both the top end of Childsbridge Lane and Church Road are completely closed, so you can't drive through the village at all to get to the church.  In order to reach the church from the centre of Seal (Zambra Way/Bentley's Meadow etc.)  you have to go via Kemsing and Noah's Ark... If you don't realise that (it's not clearly signposted on the A25) and turn off the A25 down School Lane, you will find yourselves caught up in this and forced to go three miles round the local countryside (you can, instead, take the next left turning, having gone out of the village towards Maidstone, and come down Fullers Hill, though the road is very narrow in places.)  Everyone who has come to see me at the vicarage today has been twenty minutes late which gives you some idea of the length of the diversion.
Apparently the road works will last a week. I am fervently praying that it is all sorted before the village Christmas event next Friday... Last  year it was snow - this year it is sewers...
I thought I would let you know so that you are prepared for this. If in doubt, don't drive into Seal at all! I'll try to let you know if things change before Sunday. If you do have to drive into Seal, take care, as the one way systems are being widely disregarded. One church member contacted me to say that she had counted 42 cars going up School Lane in 20 minutes, which is a disaster waiting to happen, as cars often come down that (officially) one way road at quite a fast rate, and visibility is not good over the brow of the hill.
The good news, however, is that the Death Watch Beetle scaffolding is all gone, and the church  is restored to its usual beautiful state (apart from the smaller bits of stained glass window scaffolding, which are likely to be there for several months). The boiler is working too, so if you can get to church you will at least be warm and comfortable!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Advent Reflections

Advent begins today. Here are some resources which might help you to stop, think and pray as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ,
Christian Aid's online Advent Calendar
Christian Aid - four reflections for the Sundays of Advent to download.

Paperless Christmas Nine short videos to make you think. From Bible Reading Fellowship.

Advent ideas for families

Daily videos to make you think

Jesse Tree resources to colour and decorate in the run up to Christmas

Ready, Steady, Slow - Advent reflections from the Church of England

Monday, November 07, 2011

Seal makes the TV...

And here is the Meridian report
There's a little snippet of Seal school about 1 minute 45 seconds in!

Olympic torch coming our way!

Did you know...?
The Olympic Torch is coming through Seal on Friday July 20... (of course - since Seal is plainly the most important place in the world.)
The map of the route is here.
I am sure that we will be marking the event in some way, possibly as a Know Your Neighbours event.
Ideas welcome - anyone for a Sealympics on the Rec? Welly Throwing etc. 

Apparently Meridian TV have been filming in the school this morning, and there are official shenanigans in plan for the torch's progress through Seal, so we will have to see what pans out.
Meridian are showing the piece this evening between 6-6.30pm.

cycling survey

Do you cycle in Sevenoaks, or would you if you didn't think you would be mown down by traffic. Sevenoaks Disrict Council are conducting a cycling survey here. The deadline is Nov 21 - so make your feelings known. Improved cycle facilities might at least mean that your parish priests stood more of a chance of arriving alive as she goes about her work!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Remembrance Sunday at Seal

We will be holding our usual Remembrance Sunday services at Seal on Nov 13.
At 9 am there will be a short act of Remembrance at Godden Green war memorial
Then at 10 am there will be a Remembrance Service at Seal Church, ending with the two minutes silence at the war memorial in the churchyard (weather permitting).

At the moment we are having problems with the heating in church, and it could, therefore be chilly - please wrap up warmly!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Church heating problems

We are  having problems with the boiler at the moment, and there is no heating in the church at the moment. We are working as quickly as we can to resolve the issue,  but please  be aware that the church may be cold, and wrap up accordingly!

Friday, October 21, 2011




Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Congratulations to Seal School

Seal C of E School is officially a GOOD school.

Following the recent Ofsted inspection I am delighted to pass on the news that the school was judged to be " a good school with an inclusive, caring ethos".

Ofsted categorises schools in four groups, outstanding, good, satisfactory and inadequate. At its last inspection Seal was classed as satisfactory, but now it has climbed to "good" status. Everyone in the school is delighted!
The inspectors said that this was "largely a result of the hard work and dedication of the headteacher, governing body and staff team." Congratulations to all involved - let's make sure that everyone knows how proud we are of our village school!
You can read the report here.


This service, provided by an independent charity called Domestic Abuse Volunteer Support Services  grew out of initiatives taken by Sevenoaks Churches Together and is supported by Community Safety Partnerships across West Kent, seeks to provide help to anyone, female or male, who is experiencing domestic abuse. 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 6 men will experience this at some time in their lives, so the need is very real.
Trained volunteers, supported by professionals will offer a listening ear, tailored advice and practical help.

Their leaflet can be downloaded here
and the helpline number (Mon - Fri, 10am-1pm) is
01892 570538

Monday, October 17, 2011

Messy Church

We had a great time at Messy Church yesterday. We thought about the parable of the mustard seed. Jesus likened the Kingdom of God to a tiny seed which seemed to be nothing when it was sown, but grew into a tree big enough for all the birds of the air to nest in its branches.
As you can see from the pictures, those who came really got into the various "tree related" activities, feathers were stuck to birds, and two large banners made, very messily, with leaf and hand prints. We made trees with birds  to take away, and mustard seeds were sown (actually not the same  "mustard" as the plant Jesus talks about, but never mind - it got us thinking about growing things!). We made extraordinary creatures out of pine cones and acorns, threaded leaves with wool and stuck leaves to sticky back plastic to make window pictures.

We heard Mary Joslin's lovely version of this parable too, "The story of the Heaven tree" - and prayed for our beautiful world and our responsibility to sow mustard seeds within it.
Tea and cake ended the session as usual. Great fun for all (children and adults) - many thanks to all who helped. The next Messy Church is on Dec 4th, and will have a Christmas theme (what a surprise!)
Some pictures below:

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Another sucessful fete !

Some photos from the fete. Another very successful year - the rain held off, against all expectations until nearly the end, and there was plenty of trade.
The belly dancers had their traditional (by now) problems with the music not playing, but all was sorted in the end, and a supportive crowd gave us a warm welcome! (or possibly just wanted it all to be over...)

Many thanks, as ever, to all who helped, especially to Marion Gilchrist, who kept us all in order at our planning meetings with great good humour.
This was a "Know Your Neighbours" event. Know Your Neighbours is an informal group which tries to find ways to draw our community together. Anyone can get involved - just let us know and we'll put you on our email list and let you know when the next meeting is. We will soon be starting to plan our Christmas event....

Friday, August 12, 2011


Seal Village fete takes place on Saturday 10th Sept from 12 noon to 4 pm. There will be a wild west theme, with a bucking bronco to ride (or fall off!), real horses to ride and lots of other stalls, attractions and games.

We urgently need more people to help on stalls and with setting up. Please don't be shy - we need you!
If you can help, please contact Marion by email or on 01732 763727.

Your churchyard needs you

Every Saturday during August there will be a churchyard working party between 9 and 11am. We will be undertaking various minor maintenance and gardening jobs, and all help is welcome. Please bring gloves and any other equipment you think might be useful. All ages are welcome.

Summer fun

On Sunday Aug 28th there will fun and game on Seal Recreation ground from 4 -5.30pm. All ages are welcome, and all equipment provided for a fun afternoon. Bring a picnic if you'd like to. No need to book - just turn up.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Patronal Festival Weekend

We had a great weekend:

On Saturday there was the wedding of a couple of our regular members of the congregation, Jon and Becky,  followed by a mad dash to Rochester Cathedral for Stephen's ordination, then on Sunday our festival Communion service , which was also Stephen's first celebration of Communion (well done, Stephen...!), then the baptism of the grandaughter of our bellringers (welcome to the family, Rose), then a Strawberry Tea in the vicarage garden (many thanks to those who slaved away in the hot sun to provide wonderful refreshments) then an evening service with some favourite hymns, and music from the choir (thank you, choir).

I took a few photos at the Strawberry Tea, though not many of the assembled throng eating (too busy eating myself...)

Those who got here right at the beginning headed straight for the shade...

A game of chess provoked deep thought....

Garden Jenga was nailbiting...

...and great was the fall thereof...

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Congratulations to Stephen Snelling, who was ordained as a priest in Rochester Cathedral yesterday afternoon. Here he is, (looking somewhat relieved after the service, I think). The black box contains a home Communion set which the Diocese gave to all the ordinands so that they can celebrate Communion with those who are housebound.

While we were in the cathedral we spotted (it was hard to miss) the banners made by church schools around the Diocese. They illustrate the sayings from John's Gospel which are known as the "I am" sayings. Jesus says, "I am the bread of life," "I am the Way the Truth and the Life" " I am the Good Shepherd" etc. Among the hangings was Seal school's offering, which Nicky Harvey and Linda Montgomery had masterminded - it is second to the left in this picture. You may be able to spot a photo of our altar frontal on one of the panels if you look closely.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Putting the mess into Messy Church

Here are some photos of yesterday's Messy Church. We were preparing for Pentecost, which is next Sunday. We thought about wind and fire - things which change what they touch, just as the Holy Spirit changes us. So we made flames (not real ones!) which you will see in church next week, and windchimes. We made extremely messy pictures by blowing splodges of paint around with straws. And we made junk model and paper boats, which we sailed across our own indoor ocean created in a growbag tray.

Everyone played very hard, as you can see from these photos... and much mess was created.
Thank you to helpers, Linda, Nicky and Lise for managing the mess...

The next Messy Church is on Oct 16th, but between then and now there are other activities on offer - the Strawberry Tea on Sunday June 26th will include activities for children, (£5 adults, £2,50 children, in aid of church funds) and there will be games on Seal Rec (and bring your own picnic) on Aug 28th from 4 -5.30.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Prayers for the Amazon

There is a report in today's Church Times about the recent murder of two environmental activists in the Amazon, and some comments about the murder from Ruth de Barros, who is our USPG mission partner in the Amazon. Many of you will have met Ruth, her husband Saulo, the Bishop of the Amazon, and their son last year at a barbeque here. Ruth asks for our prayers. I have pasted an extract of the report below, but you can find the whole story here.

"The bodies of José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espírito Santo, were found last week on a nature reserve. They had worked in the area for 24 years, and had received death threats because of their campaign against illegal loggers and ranchers.

Ruth de Barros, the USPG repres­ent­ative in the region, who is married to the Bishop of the Amazon, the Rt Revd Saulo de Barros, says that 800 people seeking to defend the rain­forests have been murdered in the past 30 years. A farmer, Eremilton Pereira dos Santos, was later found shot dead in the same area as the couple, and a rural leader, Adelino Ramos, was killed in Porto Velho, in north-west Brazil.

"The bodies of José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espírito Santo, were found last week on a nature reserve. They had worked in the area for 24 years, and had received death threats because of their campaign against illegal loggers and ranchers.

Ruth de Barros, the USPG repres­ent­ative in the region, who is married to the Bishop of the Amazon, the Rt Revd Saulo de Barros, says that 800 people seeking to defend the rain­forests have been murdered in the past 30 years. A farmer, Eremilton Pereira dos Santos, was later found shot dead in the same area as the couple, and a rural leader, Adelino Ramos, was killed in Porto Velho, in north-west Brazil.

Mrs de Barros says that the Angli­can Church in the region is involved in environmental action. “We take part in demonstrations against those who illegally exploit the Amazon and who kill those who get in their way. Last Saturday, members of the Church joined a march organised by the OAB [the Brazilian Bar Association] against corruption and impunity in the state of Pará — known as the Land of No Law.”

The demonstration was “also against the corruption in the administration in the state”, she said. “All we can do is join the voices of those who suffer the consequences, and let the world know what is going on, so that something may be done about it. . . So we ask for your prayers so that the churches and institutions here in Pará can fight for justice.”

Monday, May 23, 2011

Seal Youth Group

The first meeting of the newly remodelled Youth Group took place yesterday. We have met together sporadically up until now (and regularly during the Sunday service on the first and second Sundays of the month), but now Nicky Harvey has taken it in hand, along  with some helpers, and arranged something every month, usually on the fourth Sunday afternoon of the month. You can find more details of the programme here. Any young person is welcome (over about 8ish). Nicky has permission letters, which must be filled in by a parent or guardian. You can contact her on 01732 457118.
Here are some pictures of the fun, games and cake yesterday...

Some of the girls found an easier way of tackling the "run around the stool" challenge. Top marks for ingenuity, even if the "stool on the head" is never likely to catch on as elegant headwear!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's Christian Aid week

It's Christian Aid week. Thank you to all our collectors, and to Sally Thompson who has coordinated the collection. Here's a couple of videos to tell you what all that footslogging and doorknocking and tin rattling is about. The first video features some of those who collect in Sevenoaks, as well as film of the particular project which is the focus of this year's appeal, the Soppexcca, a coffee cooperative in Nicaragua.

And here's an interesting reflection from the Church Mouse blog comparing the "grass-roots" and often low key Christian Aid week collecting with the high profile of Children in Need. Christian Aid raised £15 million last year. Children in Need, with all the razzmatazz surrounding it only managed a little more - £18 million. It just shows what wecan do, with just the resource of willing people, if we really want to.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Confirmation congratulations!

Congratulations to Paul, Vicky and Brian, members of our congregation at Seal who were Confirmed at a service at Sundridge Parish Church yesterday afternoon. The service was splendid (with trumpets!) and there was a wonderful sense of celebration as the candidates (20 in total, from Sundridge and Ide Hill as well as from Seal), Here are a couple of photos - thank you Paul, Vicky and Brian  for these.

Paul, Vicki and Brian after the service.

Paul with Bishop James

Vicky and Brian with Bishop James