Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sunday worship podcast links and other news Advent Sunday

Nov 29 Advent 1

Morning Worship podcast   Morning service sheet         Hymn words (both services)

Evensong podcast  Evensong service sheet

On Zoom this week  email for links

Zoffee Sunday Nov 29, 2020 11:15 AM 

Wednesday Zoom Church 11 am. An informal service including Bible reading, prayer and a short talk.
Zoom Children’s Choir  Wed 5-5.30pm  Fun singing with Anne Le Bas
Zoom Adult choir  Wednesday 7.15 pm contact for the link.

Sunday services next week: Dec 6
10am               Holy Communion
4pm                 Story Church
6.30pm            Evensong

Today marks the start of Advent. It’s the beginning of the Church’s year, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. Traditionally Advent was a season like Lent, during which people fasted, or at least tried to clear space in their lives for reflection, before the feast of Christmas, allowing themselves to acknowledge the darkness in themselves and in the world around them, so that the light of Christ was all the brighter when it dawned on Christmas day.

In Church, Christmas begins as Christmas Eve turns to Christmas Day. It then continues through the feast of the Epiphany on Jan 6, and beyond that to Candlemas on Feb 2.

Of course this year Advent and Christmas will be different for all of us. Many of the things we would normally do in December won’t be possible, in church as well as at home – there are more details of our plans for this year below. Maybe that will help us to see Advent and Christmas in a new light, though, reclaiming some of the stillness which is normally driven out by the parties and noise and crowds, and helping us to see through the trimmings to what really matters, the love which is at the heart of Christmas whatever is going on around us, and which endures when the tinsel and trimmings are packed away and the turkey is all eaten up. It’s this love which will see us through the tough times we are going through, if we will let it.
There are many ways in which we can help ourselves to find meaning in Advent. Lighting Advent candles, opening Advent calendars, giving ourselves food for thought, such as through our daily reflections on our blog, or colouring in the Advent picture, for example - see below for links to these resources. We can also look outwards towards others, making a “reverse Advent calendar” by putting aside some tinned or packaged food each day, to be dropped off in church for the foodbank at the end of Advent, or by supporting a charity. We can reconnect with others – maybe that scrawled Christmas card, usually dashed off in haste because we are busy, could be a bit longer and more personal this year, or we might find the time to phone, Skype or Zoom old friends.
However we observe it, Advent matters. It is a gift, and a blessing, to us, and perhaps this year more than any other we may have a chance to do things differently and make the most of it, opening our eyes to look for the small signs of God at work in us and around us.

There is more about observing Advent in the video I included in last week's newsletter - link here in case you missed it then.

 All Age ideas

As well as the ideas in the video above, there are lots of ideas at this link for making an Advent ring, to help you count down to Christmas.
You could make an Advent Angel and hide it around the house each day during Advent for others in the house to find.

Join in our Advent Windows trail. Look for the Advent windows around the village - see below for details.

Would you like us to pray for you?
Email your prayer requests to:
Your email will be read by Anne Le Bas and Kevin Bright, the Vicar and Reader of Seal Church who will hold you in their prayers. 
HYMN OF THE WEEK     Christ be our light

Longing for light, we wait in darkness
Longing for truth, we turn to You.
Make us Your own, Your holy people
Light for the world to see.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in Your church gathered today.

Longing for peace, our world is troubled
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has pow'r to save us.
Make us your living voice.
Longing for food, many are hungry
Longing for water, many still thirst.
Make us Your bread, broken for others
Shared until all are fed.
Rather than one of the classic Advent hymns, this week I have included this week a modern hymn by Bernadette Farrell, Christ be our Light.
(There will be lots of Advent and Christmas carols included in our Advent series “Sing Christmas” which you can find online on the blog – see here for the introduction  Bernadette Farrell was born in 1957. A Roman Catholic, she has been involved in producing liturgical music for most of her adult life, and has worked in the East End. She was one of the founding members of London Citizens, now expanded into Citizens UK, a grassroots community organisation which works to connect people to one another and work for justice for all. 
This hymn reflects her passion for justice, and her awareness of the real darkness with which many people have to contend with on a daily basis. It calls us to look for the light of Christ and share it with others, not just in words, but in action.
  • How could you find and share the light with others this Advent?
Prayer of the week

Come to us, Lord Jesus Christ,
Come as we search the Scriptures and see God’s hidden purpose,
Come as we walk the lonely road, needing a companion,
Come when life mystifies and perplexes us,
Come into our disappointments and unease,
Come at table where we share our food and hopes,
And, coming, open our eyes to recognise you.

Donald Hilton (1932-2012)
Advent literally means “coming”, and this prayer by Donald Hilton, explores the ways in which Jesus might come to us. Donald Hilton was an United Reformed Church minister, eventually becoming the Moderator of the National URC church, and was known for his compilations of prayers. This is one of his own composition.


Look out for a new Advent window around the village each day during Advent.
You can find this week’s windows in the roads below. Look out for a number in the window, like the one on the right. If you visit all the Advent windows, either as they open or all together on a Boxing Day walk at the end, you will find a letter in each one which, unscrambled, will form a message. The windows will stay up until Dec 29.
Dec     1.Church Road
2. Church Road
3. Zambra Way
4. Zambra Way
5. High Street (north side)
6. High Street (south side)
You can find a map telling you where to find the Advent windows by clicking on the picture below. If you need a printed version and don't have a printer, email me at and I will print one for you, or there is a copy pinned to the church gates for you to view.


If you love a good sing, check out the series of reflections on well-known carols on our Church blog each day through Advent. The series starts tomorrow, Nov 30, and each post contains a Youtube video of the carol to sing along to. We won’t be able to sing in church this Advent and Christmas, but you can belt out carols at home as loudly and often as you like (or your nearest and dearest will let you!)
There is an introduction on the blog today, but then check back (or follow us on Facebook or Twitter) where links will be posted.
You can also download a printable version here.
Drawing and colouring can be a very good way to slow ourselves down and reflect. If you like to do this there is an Advent colouring sheet here. Simply find the “candle ray” for each day, read the Bible verse which goes with it and fill in the space however you would like to. You can write, draw or just fill in the space with colour and pattern. If you would like to, send me a photo of your colouring as you go along or at the end, and I will share it on our social media.
Our plans for Christmas are still in development, as we are waiting for detailed guidance on what will be possible for us in tier 3. We do know that we won’t be able to sing carols in church, and that places will be limited to 39, socially distanced at services in church, but there will be plenty of ways to celebrate, online and offline with Seal Church this year.
Current plans include the following - but I will let you know if there are changes or additions.
Dec 20
  • Online Carol service video, with carols from Seal Choir and readings from members of the congregation.
Christmas Eve
  • Online recorded Crib service video
  • Drop in between 3-5pm to visit the crib and add a prayer to the tree – this is the final “window” on our Advent window trial.
  • 9 pm -  Holy Communion in church (pre-booked tickets will be essential).  Booking will open next Sunday - Dec 6 - and the link will be here and on our church website. We can't sing carols, but we are hoping there will be an organist to provide some live, Christmassy music at this service. There will be no service at Midnight this year.
Christmas Day
  • 10 am Holy Communion with a story (pre-booked tickets will be essential). There will be recorded Christmas music at this service, but we won't be able to sing carols, sadly. Booking opens next Sunday, Dec 6. 
  • If the Christmas Day service becomes fully booked, it will be repeated at 11.15am and more tickets will be released for booking later in Advent.
  • A Video of the Christmas Eve 9pm service will be available to watch on Christmas Day, and there will be a special audio podcast which will include this year's Christmas story.
12 days of Christmas
  • Tune in for a daily Christmas story. Every year on Christmas Day I tell a Christmas story. This year, I am recording a selection of those I have told over the years I have been at Seal, and will be releasing one a day on each of the twelve days of Christmas. These will be available as an audio podcast from the church blog each night from Boxing Day to Jan 6 from 5pm - so you can snuggle down for a listen as the darkness draws in and bedtime approaches! 
And Finally...

Many congratulations to Barbara Arnold, who celebrates her 100th birthday this week on Dec 2. As anyone who knows Barbara will tell you, she is an extraordinary person, who has a wonderfully positive and determined attitude to life, and still has a very acute interest in all that is going on around her. If anyone who doesn’t have her address would like to send a card, please drop it off to me at the vicarage and I will deliver it, with our best wishes.

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