Sunday, 31 January 2016

Our Christingle Service


This morning we had a Little Rocks Family Christingle Service as today is Candlemas, and officially the last day of Christmas in the Church calendar.

Christingle is a custom that originated in the Monrovian church in 1747 and the word Christingle means Christ Light.

After our first hymn, Reverend Gregg asked a member of the congregation to light the large Paschal Candle - this reminded everyone of their baptism as this candle is always lit on these occasions.

This year we were able to make our own Christingles, and we were helped by our parents, Ann and Helen. We collected an orange, a candle and some red tape from one table, and then moved to another table where there were cocktail sticks, raisins and sweets so we could complete our Christingles. Here are some of our members making their Christingles:

Reverend Gregg had asked some of the grown ups who didn't want to make Christingles if they would help to pack away the Nativity Scenes so the Church was very busy! Organist John played some lovely music to help everyone get through their jobs!

When everyone had returned to their pews, Reverend Gregg gave a short talk about the meaning of Christingles. He did ask some of the grown ups what each part of our Christingles represented!

The orange represents the world and the candle is for Jesus who is the light of the world. The cocktail sticks represent the four seasons, which bear the fruits of the earth (the raisins and sweets). The red tape around each orange represents the blood of Christ who shares in the suffering of the world.

Before our prayers, Reverend Gregg and Ellie lit the Christingle candles for the people in the front of the church. They then lit the candles of the people next to the and behind them and, slowly but surely, Christingles all around the church were shining brightly!

During our prayers, we remembered the work of The Children's Society and asked Jesus to help them continue their work with every child they meet, particularly those living in families who are struggling to make ends meet, and our collection today is being sent to help The Children's Society continue this good work.

For our final hymn the lights in the church were turned off and our Christingles were shining with Jesus' light.

For the blessing, Reverend Gregg asked us all to take our Christingles home and leave them lit on a windowsill, taking the light of Jesus into the world as a sign of a new beginning, a new hope, and a new commitment to improve the life of suffering children.

See you next time!
The Little Rocks Leaders

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Jesus' Agenda


At Little Rocks this morning we have been looking at the Bible passage from Luke 4 verses 14-21 which is about Jesus attending the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth where he reads from the Jewish Scriptures and claims that Isaiah's prophecy about the Messiah is fulfilled in him.

After our opening prayer, Helen said that we needed to rearrange our Little Rocks room so that it resembled a Jewish synagogue from Jesus' day. 

We had a bench on one side of the room, with a row of chairs facing the bench on the opposite side of the room. Helen explained that there would have been a section for the women to sit, but as we don't really have enough space at Little Rocks we wouldn't be having that area. Our cupboard became the "Ark" where the scrolls are stored safely and then our activity table became the reading desk. Everyone was able to stand at the reading desk, and share a story with the group.

Then Helen stood up, and shared the Bible story. Some of the words were missing from the story, but Helen had printed out the missing words on strips of paper and we had to find the right word to complete the story!

Jesus had been away in the wilderness but it was time for him to return home. Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit he went back to Galilee, and very quickly news about him spread right across the area. He taught in the synagogues and was praised by everyone.

Then he went to Nazareth, where he'd grown up, and on the sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as he was used to doing. He stood up to read from the Jewish Scriptures, and the scroll of Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to release the prisoners, heal the blind so they can see again, and set the oppressed free. He has sent me to tell everyone that the year of the Lord's favour is here."

After he had finished reading, he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down again. Everyone was watching him and he looked at them and said 'Today this Scripture has come true.'

After our story, we talked about teachers and what makes them so good. We decided that people who are kind, fair, helpful and someone we could talk to make good teachers. We also talked about how the people of Nazareth might have felt hearing Jesus reading this story - they had seen Jesus grow up from being a child and he was standing there telling a story about himself! We decided that because Jesus was kind and helpful, the people of Nazareth didn't mind him teaching them.

We then made our own scrolls by colouring bible storyboards that Helen had printed out, and then she helped us make these into scrolls that we could unroll to read the story:

After this, we had our closing prayer and we returned to join our families and the rest of the congregation for the last bit of the service.

See you next time!
The Little Rocks Leaders

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Messy Nativity


This morning, Ellie and Helen together with some of our Little Rocks members joined forces with Marcia and the Messy Church Gang to bring the Nativity story to our benefice.

Yesterday, we all met up at Botley Church for rehearsals. Everyone chose what part they wanted to play in the Nativity story and we ran through the story a couple of times. After a squash and biscuit break, we were then able to choose costumes (huge thanks to Durley School for lending us their Nativity wardrobe!) before having a couple more dress rehearsals.

We all met up again at the church this morning so that the narrators could practice using the microphones, we could all get ready, make sure our props were in the right places and be in our seats before the service started. This morning Rector Gregg and Curate Amy were not going to be talking ... our play was in place of the sermon!

Our story began once upon a Christmas time, many years ago where an old shepherd called Samuel and his friends looked after the sheep on the hills above Bethlehem. The other shepherds called Samuel Uncle Sam, and Uncle Sam had 10 lambs whom he loved dearly. He counted his lambs in the afternoon, before he went to sleep and in the morning, but one morning one of his precious lambs was missing!

We then sang a song while Uncle Sam packed his bag and went to look for his missing lamb. When Uncle Sam found his lamb he also found that he had lost his way in the hills, but luckily a big, sparkly star stops high in the sky, and this leads Uncle Sam back. When Uncle Sam returns to the flock, he gets a huge shock because in front of him are a chorus of angels! The rest of the shepherds and the sheep are very frightened.

The angels are messengers and they have come with a wonderful message for the shepherds. A very special baby has been born in Bethlehem. He is Jesus, the son of God.

We sang another song about the message that the angels were bringing to the shepherds, who then decided that they're going to follow the star down into Bethlehem, and leave Uncle Sam to look after the sheep on the hills.

We sang another song which took place in the stable where Mary and Joseph were with the baby Jesus. The shepherds arrived to worship the new baby Jesus.

But the shepherds weren't the only people looking for Jesus that Christmas. Some wise men had come on a long journey from a faraway country and they had been following the same star for months. They brought gifts for the baby Jesus.

Our next song was about the wise men arriving at the stable and there was one other visitor too - Uncle Sam had decided that he wasn't going to be left out, and he came to see the baby Jesus. The wise men gave Jesus their presents of gold, Frankincense and myrhh. Uncle Sam had brought a gift too, one of his precious lambs!

The wise men started on their long journey home. Mary and Joseph were warned that Herod the king wanted to take baby Jesus away from them. They went on a secret journey to Egypt so that they could keep Jesus safe. The shepherds returned to the hills overlooking the town of Bethlehem.

Uncle Sam went back to counting his lambs but this time when he got to 9, he knew the missing lamb was safe with the baby Jesus!

We returned to sit with our families and the rest of the congregation for the remainder of the service. Afterwards, we enjoyed squash and some of the parish Christmas cake and loads of people came up to us and said how much they'd enjoyed our play!

See you next time!
The Little Rocks Leaders