Sunday, December 06, 2020

Sunday Worship podcast links and other news


Dear friends

The links to our worship this week, and other news and resources for reflection are below.
Best wishes
Revd Canon Anne Le Bas

Dec 6 Advent 2

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

Evensong podcast  Evensong service sheet

In Church
10 am Holy Communion
4pm Story Church
6.30pm Evensong

We'll be open again for worship in church today, as we were before the November lockdown. The only difference will be that, as we are in Tier 3, we can't interact socially with those outside our household/bubble in church, so it we can't sit and chat, even socially distanced and masked, inside the building. That's hard to do in a friendly church, but we will have to be content with waves and nods and smiles (behind the mask!).
Please note that there will be no Story Church or Evensong on Dec 20 or Dec 27.

On Zoom this week  email for links

Zoffee : Dec 6, 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.

Advent 2

Today’s Gospel reading focusses on John the Baptist, known as the forerunner to Jesus. According to the Gospel of Luke, he was a relative of Jesus, but the other Gospels simply speak of him as a preacher and teacher who lived in the wilderness of Judea, calling people to repentance and baptising them in the River Jordan. Jesus came to him to be baptised, and, again according to the Gospels, John pointed people to Jesus, telling them to follow him.
John was eventually beheaded, to satisfy the whim of King Herod’s step daughter, Salome, as a reward for dancing for him and his guests. He had been imprisoned for challenging Herod’s corrupt rule and lifestyle. The Gospels, and the early church, held John in high regard, and it seems that there were people who followed John’s teaching for quite some time after his death and were sometimes in conflict with the followers of Jesus. This may explain why the Gospel writers take such pains both to honour John, but also to talk about him pointing to Jesus.
This picture, by Phillipe de Champaigne, is a typical portrayal of John, dressed in skins, pointing to the tiny figure of Jesus, who is coming towards him for baptism.


All Age ideas
Today's Gospel is the story of John the Baptist. He announced the good news that Jesus was coming to show people God's love. You can hear his story here 
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. 

We can only seat 39 people in services at the moment, so if you would like to come to a service in church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, you will need to book your place. Tickets are free. Please book via Eventbrite (links below) if you possibly can, but you can also book by phone or email if you can’t book online. ( 07510 522292) We want to try to make sure that there is space for those who want to receive Holy Communion on Christmas Day and those who may not have family or other visitors to share Christmas with this year, so please think carefully before you book, especially if you are intending to come with a group of people.
  • Please check that everyone you are booking for really wants to come, so that you are not taking up a precious space with someone who would have rather stayed in bed!
  • Please be aware that the services will be simple, said services of Holy Communion. We are not allowed to sing carols inside the church. There will be an organist at the Christmas Eve service, and recorded music on Christmas Day morning, and we will go outside at the end of the service on Christmas Day to sing one carol in the churchyard, but the services will probably feel very different to those you might have come to in previous years.
  • You will need to book a ticket for everyone in your party, including children.
  • Please let me know if you have booked and then cannot use your places for any reason, so that I can reissue your ticket.
  • There will be a recording of part of the Christmas Eve service, including a sermon, available online on Christmas Day as well as a special Christmas Day audio podcast which will include this year’s Christmas story in place of a sermon. There will also be a recorded Carol service (available on Dec 20) and Crib service (available on Dec 24) so there will be plenty of other ways of joining in worship with us if you cannot come to church in person.
The Eventbrite links are here:
9pm Christmas Eve Holy Communion
10 am Christmas Day Holy Communion
If the Christmas Day 10 am service becomes fully booked, I will repeat the service at 11.15 am, and I will create a new Eventbrite link for this.

As we are now allowed to sing carols outside, we have arranged an OUTDOOR CAROL SERVICE on Sunday Dec 20 at 3pm in the churchyard.
Those attending will need to stand 2m apart, but we should have plenty of room, so there is no need to book. The service will last 30 minutes and we will sing 6 or 7 favourite carols during it.
There will also be an online recorded carol service, with readings and prayers.
More details of our Christmas worship – online and offline – can be found on the church blog and website.

Barbara Arnold had a lovely 100th birthday on Wednesday Dec 2. She was very touched by all the greetings and good wishes, and especially by Seal School’s surprise arrival to sing her Happy Birthday!

 Advent Windows
Thank you to those who made Advent Windows this week – some pictures are on the church blog here.
The coming week’s windows can be found in:
7th  High Street, 8th Copse Bank, 9th Seal Rec, 10th Church Street, 11th High Street, 12th Childsbridge Lane, 13th Robinwood Drive
You can find a map of the Advent Windows here.
Advent Wreath making.
Many thanks to Chris Rampton and  all who prepared a last minute zoom wreath making session on Friday, putting together packs of materials so that people could join in making their wreaths at home. By all accounts it was very much appreciated. Here is a picture of one of the resulting wreaths, made by Jill Myers.

Sing Christmas Advent Reflections can be found on the church blog here
Advent colouring sheet
A reflective colouring sheet is available here Advent colouring sheet here.
This is a very popular hymn – there were cries of “Oh good!” when Philip included it in our choir zoom last Wednesday (open to anyone who would like a good sing – email for the link).
When I investigated its history, though, I found I had strayed into a minefield, because it has been rewritten and edited many times, and whatever choices the editors have made have pleased some and displeased others.
The original version was written by the Revd Charles Edward Oakley (1832-1865). He died at the young age of 33, while he was Rector of St Paul’s, Covent Garden, having first served as an army chaplain in the Crimea and then as vicar of Wickwar in Gloucestershire. It is the only hymn he is known to have written during his short life. It comes out of the popular tradition of Victorian missionary hymns, which reflect the unquestioned belief that Western Protestant Christianity, and the nations which promoted it, were just what the rest of the world needed, and therein lies the problem. It’s original version has overtones of the colonial assumption that the rest of the world lay in darkness “unvisited, unblest” bound in the “sleep of ages” and needed to be set free, preferably by the British Empire. By the 1970’s, when the more modern versions were composed, this was starting to sound a little dubious, though I’m not entirely convinced that the modernised versions are any better.
Whichever words we sing, though, perhaps the best thing is to sing it as an affirmation that God is present wherever we are, and can speak to us through every culture and language.
It is almost always sung to a tune written by Martin Shaw (1875 -1958), an organist, composer and theatre director who was very influential in church music in the first half of the twentieth century, one of the founders of the Royal School of Church Music. He worked with Ralph Vaughan Williams in compiling various hymn books and carol collections. The tune, composed in 1915, is called “Little Cornard”, after the village where Shaw had his honeymoon a year later, following his marriage to Joan Cobbold. He had earlier proposed to Edith Craig, a fellow theatre director who was the daughter of the famous actress, Ellen Terry. It is said that Terry prevented the marriage because she was jealous of her daughter.
This recording of the hymn is taken at a very sprightly pace. If it feels too fast to you, you might like to note the comment below the clip from Isobel Plating, Martin Shaw’s granddaughter in reply to a criticism that it was too fast. She says “It might be the right speed, as Martin Shaw (my grandfather) and his colleague RVW [Ralph Vaughan Williams] hated hymns sung slowly. The correct speed is written on the sheet music, and is often faster than we are used to.”

Modern version
Hills of the North, rejoice,
echoing songs arise,
hail with united voice
him who made earth and skies;
he comes in righteousness and love,
he brings salvation from above.
Isles of the Southern seas,
sing to the listening earth,
carry on every breeze
hope of a world's new birth:
in Christ shall all be made anew,
his word is sure, his promise true.
Lands of the East, arise,
he is your brightest morn,
greet him with joyous eyes,
praise shall his path adorn:
the God whom you have longed to know
in Christ draws near, and calls you now.
Shores of the utmost West,
lands of the setting sun,
welcome the heavenly guest
in whom the dawn has come:
he brings a never-ending light
who triumphed o'er our darkest night.
Shout, as you journey on,
songs be in every mouth,
lo, from the North they come,
from East and West and South:
in Jesus all shall find their rest,
in him the sons of earth be blest.
Editors of English Praise (1975) based on Charles E Oakley (1832-1865)© Oxford University Press
Charles Oakley’s original version
Hills of the North, rejoice;
River and mountain spring,
Hark to the advent voice;
Valley and lowland, sing;
Though absent long, your Lord is nigh;
He judgment brings and victory.
Isles of the southern seas,
Deep in your coral caves
Pent be each warring breeze,
Lulled be your restless waves:
He comes to reign with boundless sway,
And makes your wastes His great highway.
Lands of the East, awake,
Soon shall your sons be free;
The sleep of ages break,
And rise to liberty.
On your far hills, long cold and gray,
Has dawned the everlasting day.
Shores of the utmost West,
Ye that have waited long,
Unvisited, unblest,
Break forth to swelling song;
High raise the note, that Jesus died,
Yet lives and reigns, the Crucified.
Shout, while ye journey home;
Songs be in every mouth;
Lo, from the North we come,
From East, and West, and South.
City of God, the bond are free,
We come to live and reign in thee!
Prayer of the week
O God of the stars
and the night skies
May your light be coming
through thick clouds this night
On me and on everyone
Coming through dark tears
On each one in need
And in suffering.
J. Philip Newell in “Each Day, Each Night”
Philip Newell is a member of the Iona Community. This lovely prayer is well suited to the dark nights of winter, when the starry skies can be a reminder of the light of God, perhaps just perceived as a tiny pinprick, but one which brings beauty and hope in times of darkness. It is a good prayer to pray for others as well as for ourselves.

And Finally...

A couple of weeks ago I shared the story of a stowaway in an American Christmas tree, a saw-whet owl. This week came news of an unexpected guest in an Australian Christmas tree. The McCormick family, from Adelaide, came home to discover that a koala had somehow got in and taken up residence in theirs, and was quite at home amidst the baubles.
Perhaps it would be wise to check your tree, just to make sure there’s nothing there that shouldn’t be!
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