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!