Advent – the countdown to Christmas


Advent is ‘the final countdown’ to Christmas day and many children will have an Advent calendar to help them count the days. It’s also a really special time for the church. Here’s more about why it’s so special, and some Advent activities for children.

The words Advent simply means ‘coming’ – it’s the season when Christians remember that God came to earth to be born as the Christ child, Jesus.

God also promised that Jesus will come again at the end of time to heal all the world’s hurts and divisions. Advent remembers this amazing promise, so it’s a time of hope, of getting ready, and expectation.

Waiting is hard, but Christmas is worth waiting for – it’s a special time, and at its
heart is a gift of love from God to the world. Talk about which things about Christmas
are hard to wait for and which are worth saving until the day.

Here’s what you might see in church during Advent:-

• Fewer decorations – but there might be greenery instead of flowers. This allows us to recognise that the Christian life isn’t all about celebration. It’s about hope and faith during times of sadness and challenge, too. There have been many times in history when God’s people have longed for God to come and save them, and there are times in our own life when we pray that God would come and help us, too. Those times can feel like a long, dark night. We long for the greenery to turn to flowers, just as we long for our sadness and our hope to turn to joy.

• An Advent wreath with candles on it. One candle is lit each week (usually at the start of the service) – often with a special song or prayer. Children may be asked to light the candles with a long taper.

• Many churches like ours try really hard not to start Christmas too soon, and using some of the wonderful Advent Hymns instead.   By saving the Christmas carols till Christmas itself means they feel even more special when you do sing them! Advent is a really important time to pray for peace and love to fill the world, so you may hear more of these kinds of prayers in church.

Advent at home
If your family enjoys chocolate, you might like a Real Advent Calendar (www.realadvent.co.uk). These calendars have a piece of Belgian Fairtrade chocolate behind every window, plus an illustrated Christmas story booklet that you can read together as a family. A percentage of each purchase is also donated to a good cause.

There are other Advent calendars which present the Christmas story, like one offered on the Traidcraft website: www.traidcraftshop.co.uk by Divine chocolates.  Both of these calendars are available at Tesco stores too, while stocks last.

You can also download a simple Star Advent Calendar here: Star-Advent-colour  you can also see one open each day on www.churchofengland.org/followthestar.

If you’re holding off on the chocolate, an Advent candle is a lovely way to count down the days – it’s marked with the numbers 1 to 25 so you can burn a little each day and still have enough left to light up your Christmas day. You can find them in Christian
bookshops and some department stores. There is one available on www.eden.co.uk
and on the Traidcraft website, www.traidcraftshop.co.uk.

If you believe that simple acts of kindness and creativity can make the world a better
place, why not get hold of a Love Life Live Advent booklet (www.liveadvent.net), it’s
packed with thoughtful and practical actions that you can do together as a family to
help you prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas and to make your
corner of the world a better place.

Whatever you want to do and however you wish to get ready for Christmas, we look forward to welcoming you to one of our Special Services throughout December, you can find out more at  www.naylandchurches.wordpress.com/christmas/

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What links the War Artist James Clark to Nayland?

In 1914 the war artist James Clark rose to prominence when his moving painting “The Great Sacrifice” was reproduced in The Graphic illustrated newspaper in December 1914.

The Great Sacrifice by James Clark c.1914

The Graphic says “Like all great pictures, it was produced in a moment of inspiration.  At the foot of the Cross, which symbolizes the whole spirit of Christmastide, sleeping his last sleep lies a young soldier sacrificed on the altar of duty to country”.

The original painting was donated by Clark to the War Relief Exhibition which opened in January 1915, where under its original title of “Duty” it was purchased by Queen Mary.

The picture hit a nerve with the people back at home, with copies being reproduced in homes, hospitals, class rooms, mission halls and churches throughout the county, often becoming makeshift shrines alongside the rolls of honour.

Which brings us to the connection with St James in Nayland.

For many years the memorial window depicting “Christ the King greeted by Nayland Parishioners” and dedicated to Edith Farmiloe (herself an artist and illustrator of children’s books) has been attributed incorrectly to Robert Anning Bell (c.1921).

In fact correspondence between Clark’s grandson and the former incumbent of Nayland, The Revd David Strannack, in 1993 reveals that in James Clark’s yearbook for 1930 he noted that he had “Designed, made cartoon and painted a memorial window for Nayland Church, Suffolk in memory of Mrs Farmiloe”

Christ the King greeted by parishioners in Nayland Photograph (c) Simon Knott (www.suffolkchurches.co.uk)

It is hoped that when the church guidebook is next reprinted the new correct attribution will be give, a small tribute to a moving and talented artist, and a most appropriate one for us to make as we approach the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War One and we look afresh at the works of the great artists and the part that they have played in helping us understand the tragedy and horrors of war and the cost that a generation were prepared to make in the hope of a better future for all.

Join us on Remembrance Sunday as we come together as a community to pay our respects.

Love, loss and remembering

Child looking at candle

Love, loss and remembering

Autumn has traditionally been a time when Christians explore the big questions about life and death. Watching the leaves fall and the nights draw in is an opportunity for all ages to think about love and loss and remember in special ways.

Children ask questions about death for all kinds of reasons. It may come from seeing a local war memorial, or closer to home with the death of a pet. Or maybe your child has lost a great-grandparent, grandparent, a family friend, a teacher, a neighbour, an aunt or uncle.

For some children, the impact of loss has huge consequences, especially if it’s the death of a parent or a sibling. However and whenever those questions come, there are good ways to remember those we see no longer with family at home:

• Light a candle on important days and say a prayer. “Loving God, thank you    for_________ and help us to remember them well. ” This is a simple prayer to say together.
• Gather some items that remind you of that person – letters they wrote, photos of them, items of clothing – and keep them in a nice box. Children can add
things to the box.
• Taking part in charities connected to the person who died; Race for Life is a family friendly event that can honour people who died from cancer, for example.
• Children can help taking care of a gravesite – pulling weeds, choosing flowers or
other items to bring at special times, washing a memorial stone, etc.

The church also has ways of remembering those we love who have died. This happens at the start of November, at All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. A week later, at Remembrance Sunday, we remember those who died in wars, and pray for peace.

At All Saints’ Day (November 1st), we remember those Christians who have died, who we don’t know personally. A “saint” is someone whose life shows us how to follow Jesus.

There are all kinds of saints – teachers, artists, scientists, social reformers, troublemakers, writers, and many more. Is there a saint who shares your child’s name? Their birthday? Think of well-known saints, like St George for example, and discover together who they were and what they did.

On All Souls’ Day (November 2nd), the church remembers all those we know who have died.

In our Benefice we hold a special service on All Saints’ Sunday, this year it will be on Sunday 4th November 2018 at 4pm in St Mary’s Church, Stoke by Nayland, and all are invited to add any names they would like read out to a list which can be found at the back of all five of our churches in the weeks beforehand – we can hear the names that mean something to us and light a candle to remember them.

We also hold special Remembrance Sunday Services on Sunday 11th November 2018 details of these services can be found here.  Why not join us and with your child we can remember along with the whole church family.

If your child is struggling with a bereavement, there are resources available:-
• Child Bereavement UK, (https://childbereavementuk.org/forfamilies/support/)
Grief Encounter (https://www.griefencounter.org.uk)
and Winston’s Wish (https://www.winstonswish.org.uk), are all charities which offer        support to bereaved children.
• SANDS (https://www.sands.org.uk) is for anyone coping with the death of a baby,
including siblings.
• At A Loss (http://www.ataloss.org/find-support/search) can help you find the right
services for bereavement in your area.
• Your child’s GP may also be able to offer help and support.

Remembrance Services 2018

This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War One.

Together with members of the Nayland Branch of the Royal British Legion we have been working on a series of events to commemorate this occasion, leading up to our Benefice Act of Remembrance on the 11th November itself when we remember all those, both military and civilian, who were wounded both physically and mentally, or gave their lives in the hope of a better world.

Join us at one of our services:

Thursday 8th November 2018
11am                  Caley Green, Nayland – Setting up a Field of Remembrance with
children  from Nayland Primary School planting crosses to remember the fallen.

Saturday 10th November 2018
10am-Noon    Nayland Church Hall, Bear Street – Poppy Appeal Coffee Morning

Sunday 11th November 2017
8am                     Stoke Church (Traditional Holy Communion)
10:45am           Nayland Church (Benefice Remembrance Service – Starts at Memorial)
1pm                     Polstead Church (short service remembering fallen from the village)
2pm                     Stoke Church (short service remembering fallen from the village)
3pm                     Leavenheath Church (short service remembering fallen from the village)
4pm                     Wiston Church (short service remembering fallen from the village)

Merchant Navy Day 2018

Since 2000, Merchant Navy Day on 3rd September has honoured the brave men and women who kept our ‘island nation’ afloat during both World Wars, and celebrated our dependence on modern day merchant seafarers who are responsible for 95% of the UK’s imports, including half the food we eat, plenty of the fuel we burn and virtually all the products and goods we take for granted!

We again this year flew the Red Ensign at Stoke and in Nayland

Back to School

If September brings some kind of new beginning for your family, such as a child starting nursery, school or moving up a class, it can be helpful to know that God is always with us wherever we go.

The start of a new term is an opportunity to ask for God’s blessing on the places we will go and the people we will meet.

Here’s a simple way to do this:

• Look in your child’s school bag. Often there is a name tag built in. You can usually take the paper slip out of the tag.

• Write on the back of the paper slip a simple prayer for your child, for example, ‘Dear God, please bless (child’s name) at (nursery/school) this year’, or similar words.

• Replace the card in its holder, and nobody will know the prayer is there except you, your child and God.

• If the bag doesn’t already have a tag, you can use a keyring (one of those with a plastic frame and a paper insert) and attach it to the zip.

Parents: if you take a bag or briefcase to work (or even if you just have a handbag or sports bag) why not make yourself a blessing label too?

Plan for each day: Starting a new morning regime can be stressful but planning ahead for the next day is a great way to reduce morning panics and get the day off to a smooth start.

So the night before, try doing a few things ahead of time. Helping your child pack their bag and laying out their outfit or school uniform can help. Make their packed lunch the night before too, if they’ll have one.

Saying a simple prayer each night at bedtime can help children relax and know God will be with them through everything they’ll do the next day. Ask your child if there are any special things happening, whether there is anything they’re excited about. If they have any worries or think there might be problems to tackle the next day, let them know they can hand their worries to God, because Jesus promised that everyone who has problems can come to him, and he’ll find a way to lighten the burden.

You might then like to pray with your child about those things, to say thank you for everything that’s going well, and ask for God’s help with the challenges. The following prayer is an example, but simply talking to God like a friend is often the easiest way to pray!

Loving God, thank you for all my friends, and my teachers/carers.
Thank you that I have the chance to learn new things every day.
Please bless everyone at school/nursery, and please bless me too.
Help me to know that all day long, whether I’m having fun
or whether I’m feeling upset, you’re there for me.
Amen.

Make a memory: If your child recently had a first day at school or nursery or playgroup, keep the photo of them that day as a reminder, and of how special the moment is. You could take one at the same time each year, and create an album – pick a background that won’t change, so you can see how they’ve grown!

 

Article taken from www.churchofenglandchristenings.org with permission.