Advent and Christmas Trees

This weekend will sees the start of the Season of Advent, the days and weeks when we begin to think about all those people throughout history who prepared the way for the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, the baby in a manger, who would change the world forever.

It is also the weekend when many will begin to think about a Christmas Tree.    If you would like your Christmas tree to mean more this year, why not try this beautiful and thoughtful prayer idea?

Children love to help with decorating the tree. This idea is an easy way to let them
get involved, and helps them pray at the same time.

• Buy some pretty gift tags (sparkly stars work well) – or make some by cutting
up last year’s Christmas cards.

• Write on the plain side the names of people or situations that you want to pray
about.

• Hang the gift tag prayers on your tree as a sparkly reminder – just as your
tree lights shine in the darkness, so your prayers are like a candle that lights
up the lives of those in need.

• Christmas is a particularly difficult time if you are sad, or ill, or lonely or
worried. Keep a few spare gift tags so you can add to your tree when you
think of others who need your prayers.

Tip: If you know someone needs your prayers, but it’s best if others don’t know
they’re in need, why not just write their initial on the tag, or draw a heart shape – God
will know you are thinking of them.

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/

Carols at bedtime

Christmas is great time of year to learn songs – many have been passed down the
generations for hundreds of years. And singing together is also lovely way to praise
God, whether at home or in church. Try these well-known songs with your child.

As Christmas draws near, why not include a verse or two of Away in a Manger in
your child’s bedtime routine?

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;
the stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky,
and stay by my side until morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay
close by me for ever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.

When it’s dark, you might enjoy singing just the chorus of This little light of mine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

A really simple song that you could use in night time prayers goes to the tune of
Frere Jacques:

Light a candle, light a candle,
God is here, God is here.
Bless our friends and family,
Bless our friends and family,
Far and near, far and near.

Safety first:  Small children love to watch a candle flame, but you must never leave
a lit candle unattended or within a child’s reach – you might prefer to use a battery
powered candle for night prayers.

For more information about our Christmas Services – Click Here