Friday, November 30, 2018

Advent Angels Introduction


Angels are a common feature of many Christmas decorations and cards. They are often pictured rather sentimentally, as golden haired children, or shining, gentle beings wafting about in clouds of light. The angels we find in the Bible, though, are far more varied and, dare I say it, interesting. In this series of Advent readings we will meet angels who would probably terrify us if we met them (there is a reason why so many angelic messages start “do not fear”!)

About Angels

A great deal has been written about the development of Biblical ideas about angels – far too much to touch on here. At the time the Bible was written, however, it was taken for granted that the world was populated by divine beings of one sort or another. Some faiths believed in a whole host of Gods and Goddesses, but for the Jews, who held firmly to the belief that there was just one God, angels were important as they symbolised God’s presence with people and spoke his messages to them. Sometimes, especially in the Old Testament, writers flip between talking about the voices of angels and the voice of God in the course of a story. For example, in the story of Moses and the Burning Bush, the writer starts off by saying that “the angel of the Lord” spoke to Moses, but gradually it becomes clear that it is God himself who is speaking. The point is, though, that the angels only say what God has told them to say, so to hear from an angel is the same thing as hearing from God. The word “angel” is derived from “angelos”, which is the normal Greek word for a messenger of any kind.

The idea of angels developed slowly through the course of the period covered by the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament), so we can’t always expect to find a consistent picture, but by the time of Jesus, there were well-developed ideas of different ranks and orders of angelic beings – cherubim and seraphim, named archangels like Michael and Gabriel, each with their own separate functions and positions. Some of these ideas were almost certainly shared with or borrowed from other cultures and traditions. However, the important thing is that stories about angels remind us that the God that Christians and Jews worship is a God who loves us, protects us and wants to communicate with us. Whether we believe literally in these creatures or not, we have a God who cares enough about his creation to want to be in touch with it and present in it.

Angels in the New Testament 

Angels are mentioned in the New Testament quite often, but it is noticeable that no angels appear during the time of the ministry of Jesus. There are angels at his birth, angels ministering to him in the desert before he begins his ministry and angels announcing his resurrection, but during his ministry there is no need for angels, as people can meet God in him.

During this series of readings we will be meeting angels who minister in various different ways. We will hear stories about worshipping angels, warrior angels, guardian angels and herald angels. (There aren’t equal numbers of these different categories – it depended on the number of stories I could find about each!)

What might God say to us through the angels this Advent? The questions at the end of each day’s reflection might help you to find out. You can think about them on your own, or discuss them with others.

·         Look out for any Christmas cards you receive this Advent that have angels on them. What do you think the artist who created them might have thought about angels?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Advent Angel Actions

Angels bring God's messages of good news to us. Join in our Angel Actions this #Advent. A simple challenge for each day from Dec 1 to help you and your family hear the good news of God's love and be good news to others. Be an angel with us this Advent. Challenges will pop up on the blog each day from Saturday onwards.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Advent angel reflections

Join us for an Advent journey through the Biblical stories of angels . These will appear here on the church blog each day.  The series starts on Dec 1. There are printed booklets containing the reflections in church, as well, which can also be downloaded from the church website.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Messy Church for Advent and Christmas

We had a great Messy Church yesterday with an Advent and Christmas theme. Advent candles, angel lights, angel handprint wings for a big picture that will appear later in church, a giant photo frame, and some home made wrapping paper with stars and angels on it. There was a great lego nativity built and an angel  dice game too.
At the end, we told the story of Christmas with the help of our "knit your own Bible" hand puppets, and sang some songs before we enjoyed a lovely tea - many thanks for the cakes, Hilary, Jenny and Evonne, and to all the helpers for all your work.
Here are some photos.

An angel game from flame creative kids
A great "colour an angel" game, from flame creative kids. Throw a dice and colour the section of the picture.

The game gets fast and furious
Competition got fast and furious...

Everyone hard at work...

Advent candles - Sharpies write on wax, fortunately. A simple, but always popular activity.

The photo frame in the making
The photo frame in the making.

More work on the photo frame

Angel lights

more angel lightsAnd more angel lights

home made wrapping paper
Home made wrapping paper - I wonder who will receive a gift wrapped in it? 

Duplo nativity in the making.
Away in a Duplo manger... 
And a camel, of course...
...which needed closer inspection.

handprinted feathers on angel wings.
Our newest Messy Churcher makes her mark, with a bit of help from dad. The handprints are "feathers" on an angel's wings. The finished product will be on display in church later in Advent.

Ali's nativity picture.

Worship together
We told the Christmas story together and sang some songs. Yes, "Mary and Joseph slept in a stable, e-i-e-i-o..." had to have its annual outing.

And there was cake!

And here are some pictures with our Christmas Blessings photo frame, and some of  our Christmas Blessings pictured within it!

Friday, November 02, 2018

November news from Rochester Diocese

For a printed version to pin to your noticeboard please click here

Thursday 1 November 2018

Welcome to the November edition of Rochester Diocese's monthly e-newsletter. 

Uplifting visit by Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury has just completed a wonderful two-day visit to the Diocese which saw him share time with parishes, people and communities across the three archdeaconries. Uplifting and encouraging those he met, he too was inspired and moved by the many stories he heard and the work he witnessed.

Highlights included a prayer walk through Chatham High Street, a visit to the Medway Towns Sikh Gurdwara Sabha and a moving service in Rochester Cathedral which saw 18 new volunteers commissioned to work on raising awareness of Modern Slavery.

Every place he visited however was special and shone a light on just some of the amazing work taking place in churches across the Diocese to support the diverse needs of their communities. We've dedicated much of the parish news below to his visit. See a full gallery of pictures here.

News in brief
Stories from around the parishes

Little fish get a BIG surprise
The young regulars at St. John's in Penge had a special visitor for story-time.
Read more.

Prayer hits the street in Chatham
Shoppers got more than they bargained for during a prayer walk through Chatham Read more
Students take on social media
Students from St. George's C of E Secondary, Gravesend hold their own in live debate. Read more.

Parishes prepare for Centenary
Poppy displays, exhibitions and services as parishes prepare to mark the Centenary. Read more

Diocesan Update
All you need to know this month from the Diocese and National Church

In his monthly video message, Bishop James looks ahead to Centenary commemorations next weekend and asks that we continue to learn the lessons of the past, share them with our young people and to pray for peace. View it here.

Did you know you can now submit an event onto our What's On calendar?  Just head over to the calendar and submit your event for approval. We've also added a few new features to the homepage including our twitter feed, prayer cycle and a view of our latest video or podcast. Take a look here.

You only have until tomorrow to respond to the 'One mission, many places' consultation, regarding the proposal to introduce Indicative Offers.The consultation closes on Friday 2 November. To read the full proposal, download a summary leaflet, or find to out how to submit your views, click here

Church Urban Fund is inviting churches to support their work this Christmas... and be in for the chance to win £400 worth of church resources with CPO. A 'Raise Your Voices' event can be anything from carol services to carol singing. To host an event and be entered into a prize draw to find out more here.

A total of 32 projects promoting a better understanding between science and faith have been funded since 2016 in cathedrals, dioceses, and churches as part of the Scientists in Congregations scheme. Applications for a new round of grants are being invited with a deadline of January 7 next year. Apply here

SOCIAL MEDIA TRAINING - We still have a few spaces available for our social media training on Tuesday 13 November. Delivered by the national church Digital Team via a live stream, places are limited to one place per parish and are ideal for anyone responsible for their church's online presence. Book here

ROCHESTER LEARN - We have re-launched the twitter feed dedicated to all our training and learning opportunities for lay and ordained ministers. Find it at @RochesterLearn You can also find out more information about our training and short courses here.

#FOLLOWTHESTAR -  Material for this year's national Christmas campaign, #FollowTheStar are now available. Sign up for daily reflections, purchase publicity materials or dowload family resources here.

Video of the month: Imaginative prayer with the Archbishop

In a first for the Diocese, an Imaginative Prayer session, live-streamed on Facebook, allowed people from within the Diocese and beyond, to hear Archbishop Justin in conversation with Bishop Simon Burton-Jones and to share in a time of prayer with him.

Reflecting on the story of 'On the Road to Emmaus' ( Luke 24: 13-35) the session was led by Susanne Carlsson and Madeline Dahl from the Companions of Christ, who are based at the Diocese's Attic Retreat Centre in Chatham.

Reaching over 18,000 people so far, it can be viewed on the Diocese of Rochester's Facebook page: @CofERochester or click the image above.


The safeguarding of children, young people and vulnerable adults in our churches is of utmost importance and the Diocese takes its responsibilities in this area very seriously. We have a range of policies, forms and advice notes as well as a regular programme of training to assist parishes with their safeguarding needs.

C2: Leadership safeguarding training 

  • Thursday 06/12/18 at St John’s Centre, St John the Baptist, Wrotham Road, Meopham DA13 0AA Book here
  • Monday 28/01/19 at  All Saints Church, Church Green, Frindsbury, Rochester ME2 4HE Book here
  • Saturday 09/02/19 at Diocesan Offices,St Nicholas Church, Boley Hill, Rochester ME5 1SL Book here
  • Thursday 14/02/19  at The Anglican and Methodist Church of St Andrew, Maidstone Road, Paddock Wood, Kent, TN12 6DZ Book here
  • Monday 18/03/19 at All Saints’ Church, Bark Hart Road, Orpington BR6 0QD Book here

C3 Clergy and Lay Ministers Safeguarding Training

  • Tuesday 15/01/19 at St John’s Church, 251 Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent, BR3 3JN Book here
  • Wednesday 27/02/19 at St Nicholas Church, Rectory Lane, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 1JA Book here
Online modules: The C0 and C1modules are available online and are recommended for anyone who needs a basic level of awareness of safeguarding

If you have any questions about Safeguarding, or need to report an issue, please contact the Safeguarding team here or call them on 01634 560 000.


Top resources to support you in your work, life and faith - or just to share with others.

The Clewer Initiative has now launched new resources for schools to help young people understand the issue of Modern Slavery. As a key partner with the Diocese, we would encourage you to share them with your local school networks. Download the resources here

This Sunday is Adoption Sunday. Marking Adoption Sunday is an opportunity for the Church to celebrate our adoption into God’s family, to pray for vulnerable children in our nations, and to stand with families who foster and adopt in our communitiesWatch Bishop James' message  and click here for resources.

If you're looking for a novel and creative way to share the joy and wonder of Christmas with your church and local community this year, then a production from the Springs Dance Company could be for you. Available to host in churches from the 17 November 2018, they still have some dates available, so for more details visit their website here 

Events and Training

A range of courses can be found in the Diocesan Online Course Directory here. You can also view our online What's On calendar, and explore the courses available at the St. Benedict's Centre here and St. Augustine's College of Theology here.

  • Creation Care Lunch - Sunday 4 November 12.30pm, St Nicholas, Sevenoaks - Come and hear Andy Atkins, Chief Executive of A Rocha UK - founders of Eco Church - speak about how, as Christians, we should be caring for God’s creation. Lunch provided. Donations to A Rocha welcome.

  • Unlocking the Beatitudes - Tues 6 to 27 November, 7pm to 9pm, St. Benedict's Centre. Revd Nathan Ward will be leading a 4 week series on The Beatitudes  - radical statements about the Kingdom of God and how they can transform us and the world around us. £40 incl. refreshments. Visit

  • Honesty Over Silence - 11 November, 5.45pm to 7pm, Christ Church, Chislehurst An evening of live music and talks, opening up conversations around difficult topics such as trust in God when life is painful, and dealing with anxiety and depression; part of Patrick Regan's tour of the country. Details here

  • Evangelism: 'no pressure' - 15 November, 8pm, St Philip’s and St James Church, Chatham Revd Canon Mark Brown leads an evening exploring evangelism and faith sharing, and some of common areas where people can feel under pressure. More details here

Understanding this Generation - Monday 26 November, 7.30pm, Christ Church, Tunbridge Wells Transforming Children’s mental health; how can the Church be part of the solution? How to spot the signs and knowing what to say. Speakers include Bishop Simon Burton-Jones. Details at:

  • Christingle 50 Years - Saturday 15th December,  12.30pm, Rochester Cathedral.  The Children's Society is celebrating 50 years since the first Christingle service. Join this special service led by the Diocesan Youth Council.

Christmas UnwrappedSunday 9 December, 6pm to 8pm, KICC, Buckmore Park, Kent A Christmas carol concert for the whole family. Join preacher J.John, the Salvation Army Band and WE CAN Sing UK for a festive celebration to kick off Christmas together. Visit:

Vision and Aims

GROW - PRAYER To make prayer the fundamental basis for life in the Diocese, to harness the power of prayer to transform lives; to encourage every individual to pray for five people to come to faith
  • NEW PRAYER APP: For those who like to access their prayer on the go, the Diocese of Rochester’s Calendar of Intercession is now available via the free PrayerMate App. PrayerMate is an award-winning Christian prayer app that helps bring the prayers for the people and causes you care about in one place on your phone or tablet. To find out more and to get started, click here

Vacancies and appointments

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