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#GodWithUs campaign reaches 6.8m people

A NATIONAL initiative that featured videos of a High Wycombe church has been declared a huge success. Read more

Seasonal signposting in the greatest story ever told

Yvonne Morris, our diocesan children’s adviser, provides a way for families and children’s workers to have chilled out conversations about the Christmas story.

Use the wonderings and questions as a springboard to share together your stories, thoughts and experiences.

There are no right or wrong answers – this is an invitation to be and talk together. All these things are signposts pointing towards an event called Christmas.

Did you know that in God’s big story, written in the Bible, there are many signposts pointing towards Christmas? They don’t involve Christmas jumpers, writing cards or watching Christmas movies.

Around 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah wrote about his coming. Isaiah wasn’t the only prophet to know that Jesus would come. Jeremiah, Daniel and Micah are just some of the prophets who were so close to God they knew what he was saying.

A bit like a jigsaw puzzle, each prophet had a piece that in time would come together to make a picture, pointing to when God’s promises would come true.
Read together your favourite version of the Christmas story. You can find it in the Bible in Matthew Chapters 1 and 2, and Luke 1-2:40 or in your storybook Bible. The Christmas Journey by Susie Poole (published by Pupfish) and My Very First Nativity Play by Lois Rock (published by Lion) are both great for primary school children and pre-schoolers.
As you read the story, can you find ‘signposts’ that point towards Bethlehem? I wonder what signposts you found? I noticed that angels are like signposts to different people throughout the story.

Like the prophets, Angels point the way to Jesus across time (but not so many years as Isaiah!). An angel foretells the birth of John the Baptist and the angel Gabriel appears to Mary to prepare her to be Jesus’ mum. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream (three times!) and many angels appeared to the shepherds to announce Jesus’ birth.

Did you notice what the angels often say to the person they are speaking to? I wonder if being told ‘Do not be afraid…’ helped them feel less frightened. What helps you when you feel scared?

Did you read the part of the story about the Magi? (they may have been called Wise Men in your version). They had a brilliant signpost showing them how to get to Bethlehem! Can you imagine following a star? I wonder what their journey was like. Do you think they talked and joked and got cross with each other on the way?

I just love the Christmas story. There are so many things to be curious about. Keep wondering about the prophets that point to Jesus across many many years. Keep wondering about the Angels that point to Jesus and show the way to Bethlehem. Keep noticing the things that point you to Jesus and the signposts showing you his way of loving and living.

Offer these things to God in prayers using your own words.

Wonderings and questions

I wonder how you know Christmas is coming?
Have you written in Christmas cards?
Have you been to a carol or Christingle service?
Have you watched a Christmas movie?
Have you worn a Christmas jumper?
Have you been opening an Advent calendar?
Have you been lighting an Advent candle?
How else do you know Christmas is coming?

A 16th Century Where’s Wally

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In Bruegel’s picture, heaven has come to earth. Bruegel instructs us to look for Christ in the ordinary bustle of waiting and queuing;

Loneliness Sunday

lonely“LONELINESS is painful” says Andrew Shoesmith the Chairman of the Archway Foundation speaking recently as the organisation launched its pack on loneliness for local churches.

The Archway Foundation has spent the last 30 years raising awareness of the serious damage that loneliness can do. And at last the world seems to be listening. “In the past year there have been lots of stories in the press pointing out that loneliness affects both physical and mental health” said Andrew.

Meanwhile medical research is underlining how badly this hidden disease can affect people’s long-term wellbeing.

Archway is christening the first Sunday after Christmas “Loneliness Sunday” as a way of shining light on the issue.

Andrew Shoesmith continued to say: “We hope that this idea will catch on among the churches and that it will become a regular feature of this time of year. After all, it shouldn’t really be a shock to see Christians loving their neighbours! If the church can’t be looking out for those who may be spending the festive season alone, who else is going to do it?”

Details can be found on the Archway website or from the Archway office on 01865 790552.

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