Christmas Services in Stoke-by-Nayland, Leavenheath, Polstead, Nayland and Wiston
Christmas Services in Stoke-by-Nayland, Leavenheath, Polstead, Nayland and Wiston
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
• 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.
As a way of helping families make their money go further, and to help reduce our environmental impact, we are delighted to introduce our very first Children and Tots Swap Shop.
On the first Wednesday in December (4th) we will be hosting a Swap Shop in St James’ Church in Nayland from 10am to Noon (alongside our well established Coffee, Cake and Conversation).
It is an ideal opportunity to bring along any clean, good quality clothing, toys’ or baby equipment that you no longer use and allow others to take them away and give them a second life. Hopefully you can also then find something larger or more age appropriate for your child(ren) to take away with you.
As it is happening in the first week of December, hopefully it will be a great chance to recycle last years Christmas Jumper or Party Dress which they have outgrown, without having to spend a fortune buying a new one this year.
This event is FREE (Donations Welcome) and EVERYONE is invited, so feel free to share.
As an added Bonus you can also enjoy some wonderful homemade cakes together with a nice cup of tea or coffee.
It is hoped that if this first Swap Shop is popular we will make it a regular monthly event.
Throughout September, churches in our benefice will all be having their Harvest Festival services. At these services you are encouraged to bring food donations or toiletries to give to our local food banks.
Often there’ll be hymns and songs that say ‘thank you’ to God for all that he provides, every day.
These are some simple ways to say ‘thank you’ to God at home too:-
Say a ‘thank you’ prayer
A line in the Lord’s Prayer asks God to ‘Give us this day our daily bread’. When we say that line, we’re asking God to provide the basic things in life that keep us healthy and happy. It can start with the food we need to eat each day, but for lots of different reasons, not everyone has enough.
So saying thank you for our food is important – we might thank the person who cooked it, and we might go back further and think of the people in the shops where we bought the ingredients, and even trace it right back to the farmers who grew the crops in the first place.
For children who are old enough, trying talking about this together one meal time, taking each item on the plate and thinking about where it came from and all the people and work that has gone into bringing it to your table.
Saying grace before a meal is a way of saying thank you to God for making the earth
and everything in it – all good things come from God, and it’s up to us to use them in
the very best and most generous way.
Try singing this grace:
One, two, three, four, five, thank you God that I’m alive.
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, thank you God for food. Amen!
One of the most traditional graces goes like this:
“For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful
and keep us always mindful of the needs of others.”
Some families hold hands while they say grace – this reminds us that we are thankful not only for our food, but that we can share it with people we love, as in this prayer:
“Thank you God for food, and family, and friends. Amen.
“Thank you God for food, and family, and friends,
we remember those who have no food today,
and those who have food, but nobody to share it,
As you have blessed us, help us be a blessing for others. Amen.
Decorate a ‘grace’ table mat:
Take a piece of A4 paper, and in the middle draw round a medium sized plate to make a circle, then in that circle draw round a smaller plate. You should have something that looks a little bit like a plate. Then draw a fork outline on the left, and a knife outline on the right, and a spoon above – don’t worry about the quality of the artwork!
Now, have some fun decorating your plate with pictures of their favourite food – you can draw pictures yourself, or cut them out of magazines, or use pictures from food packets – and you can even label them if your child is old enough to start learning to read.
Somewhere on your paper, perhaps at the top or in a corner, write ‘Thank you God’ in big letters and colour it in – this is your thank-you place mat, a reminder of all the good things that God gives us.
Once you’ve finished decorating, you can either laminate your artwork, or slip it into one of those plastic folders and seal up the end with sticky tape.
Use your place mat at family meal times as a reminder of your thankfulness for all God’s blessings, and particularly for food.
This is such a fun activity, that you can create a new one every so often, with updated favourite foods, and perhaps even write a little ‘grace’ prayer of your own to go on it? Or simply include one of the prayers on this page.
Make food fun!
If your child is a bit of a fussy eater, you could try making their food more fun. Maybe arrange the veggies in the shape of a smiley face?
This coming Bank Holiday Monday (27th May) sees the return of our Annual Nayland Church Fete on the Recreation Ground behind the Village Hall (CO6 4JH) .
There is so much going on this year that we have extended the opening times from 1pm to 4pm just so that you have the chance to see and do everything!
In addition to the Classic Car Display, the £150 Top Prize Raffle, the ever popular Children’s and Adult’s Sports and Tug-O-War, NEW THIS YEAR we are introducing “Have a Go Archery” with White Dragon Archery, that is on top of all of the stalls listed below!
Glass and China
Kitchen and Picnic
Pictures & Soft Furnishings
Bric a Brac
Jewellery & Handbags
Good Condition Ladies Clothes
IF YOU ARE IN NEED OF REFRESHMENT
Cakes and biscuits
Strawberries and Cream Teas
Hot Dogs & Burgers
Last year over £14,000 was raised again which was used towards the improvements to St James’ Church, providing a new servery and accessible bathroom. More work is planned in the coming years to make the church an accessible asset for the whole community.
Adults – £3
Concessions – £2
Children – Free
Ample Free Parking (follow local signs)
We look forward to seeing you all there – but thank you in advance to everyone, visitors, sponsors, volunteers who make this event happen.
The anticipation of all those chocolate Easter eggs can be almost too much! When
the big day finally arrives, these are some sweet ways you can help children
understand why they have received Easter eggs, and explain the Easter story while
enjoying the chocolate too.
An Easter Egg story… for anyone old enough to eat chocolate
Here’s a fun way to connect chocolate Easter eggs with the story of Easter from the
Sit down together and enjoy peeling the foil wrapping off a hollow chocolate egg.
Hold the egg in your hand.
Jesus’ tomb was a bit like this egg – with the big stone rolled against the tomb
entrance, inside it must have been dark and cramped. It’s as if the darkness makes it
still Good Friday, the day that Jesus died.
But on the first Easter day, Jesus came alive again, and burst out of the tomb. Good
Friday is broken once and for all, and new life is set free.
At this point, feel free to smash the egg and start eating the pieces. While you eat,
keep going with thinking through the story.
But the trouble was, that nobody saw it happen. The soldiers who were guarding the
tomb had fainted in fear, and the next thing we know, Mary arrives at Jesus’ tomb
and finds that it’s empty. The actual moment of the resurrection happened in private.
All that excitement and joy and nobody to share it…
On Easter Sunday we focus on Mary’s story. There in the garden, the resurrection
had already happened, but she was trapped in her own Good Friday – her grief and
sadness kept her in the dark.
If you have another chocolate egg, peel off the wrapping together and hold it in your
Just like the first egg, it’s like Good Friday is still happening. It still felt like Good
Friday to Mary.
When we read Mary’s story we can tell the exact moment when the resurrection
happened for her – it’s when Jesus calls her name and she recognises him.
Suddenly all her sadness is turned to joy. Mary’s Good Friday is gone once and for
all, the new life is set free in her.
You can smash and eat your second egg now.
Over the next few weeks, churches all over the world read more stories of how
Jesus’ friends discovered that he was alive again: their own Good Fridays turned to
Easter, all in different ways.
If you have lots of chocolate eggs, you could use these stories to help you eat them:-
• Jesus’ closest friends were trapped in a Good Friday because they were
afraid, but Jesus came to them and said: ‘Peace be with you’, and all their
• Thomas’s Good Friday was all about doubt, but his doubt turned to new faith
and confidence when he saw Jesus for himself.
• Some friends of Jesus were on a journey when Jesus met them on the road,
and helped them understand what had happened; he stayed with them for
supper and as he broke the bread to share, they recognised him. Their Good
Friday confusion turned to Easter recognition.
• Peter was Jesus’ best friend, but he was stuck in Good Friday because he’d
betrayed Jesus just when he needed his friendship the most. Peter’s Easter
moment came when Jesus gave him three chances to say ‘I love you’ to make
up the three times that he had turned his back.
• Sometimes we can get stuck in Good Friday too – you could use this prayer
(perhaps as you eat a little bit more chocolate) to help you enjoy the new life
of Easter – or pray it for people you know who are having a hard time at the
Be with us in our Good Fridays,
and lead us into the new life of Easter.
This coming Sunday (14th April) is known as Palm Sunday and commemorates Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
On Palm Sunday everyone who comes to our Benefice Service (10am in Nayland) will be given a palm cross of their own to take away with them as a reminder.
Here’s a simple prayer idea which you might like to do at home with your children, while holding the palm cross.
Each point of the cross links to a theme.
Hold the cross in your right hand and then place your left thumb on the left ‘crosspiece’. Pray for the world, in these or similar words:
Loving God, thank you that your peace reaches into every situation across our world. Be close to those places that need peace this day. Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer.
Place your left thumb on the right of the ‘crosspiece’ and pray for people in need in these or similar words:
Loving God, thank you that your hope reaches into every situation. Be close to those who are ill or sad this day. Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer
Place your left thumb on the base of the ‘crosspiece’: Pray for the community where you live in using these or similar words:
Loving God, thank you that your joy reaches into our homes. Help us to know that you are with us every day. Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer.
Place your thumb on top of the ‘crosspiece’: Pray for those who lead in the church and teach us about Jesus:
Loving God, thank you that your love is shared through your church. Give wisdom to those who help us to know the Good News of Jesus. Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer
Place your thumb in centre of the ‘crosspiece’: Pray for yourself, in these or similar words:
Loving God, thank you for Jesus and the love he showed for me. Help me to follow him more and more each day. Amen.
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the most important week of the church’s year. To find out more about what is happening in our benefice, click here
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.
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/