3rd Dec 2018

How often do we ACTUALLY say thank you to the people in our lives that we appreciate? To the people who make our lives easier or serve us in some way. To those people who do the small unnoticed tasks. When was the last time you thanked your postman or the cleaner at school/work? Do you thank your Dad for cooking for you, or Mum for driving you places?

Your challenge today is to thank someone (or multiple people!) who you may not usually thank.

Maybe it’s saying thank you to a bus driver or shop keeper as you go about your daily errands. Maybe it’s taking a bit more time out to sit down and write a thank you note or card. What other ways could you say thank you? Be as creative as you like!

And don’t forget to tag us in your photos!

1st Dec 2018

It’s finally here!! The beginning of Advent! Which also means…. the beginning of our Advent Challenge!

We’re going to keep this first challenge simple: SAVE YOUR STAMPS!

It’s may not seem like much, but the small act of collecting your stamps could make a BIG a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves. We will be giving all of our used stamps to BMS, this is from their website:

“BMS World Mission has been raising money since the late 1920s by gathering and selling used postage stamps… In 1928, this first appeared in the BMS accounts as £60; now in the last financial year it raised over £15,000… Some of this money has been used to provide 2,000 picture Bibles to vulnerable Syrian children… introducing them to Biblical values such as love, compassion, grace, peace, justice, acceptance of others and forgiveness… Another example is BMS’ support of malnutrition protection workers in their hospital in Chad.”

A small act that makes a big difference. That is part of what this Advent Challenge is about, shifting the focus of Christmas from ourselves, to others, with small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness.

You can collect your stamps throughout all of the Christmas season (and throughout the year!) and bring them to the Harvington Baptist Chapel at any point. If you live a bit further afield then you can send them directly to BMS at: BMS Stamp Bureau, BMS World Mission, P.O. Box 49, 29 Broadway, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 8XA. Which, of course, would mean another postage stamp!

Roll on day 2…!

25th Dec 2018

HAPPY CHRISTMAS ALL!

Well done to everyone who did one or all of our advent challenges. We hope that this season of advent has been an opportunity to slow down and think about Christmas differently. We hope you’ve seen how your small actions can make a big impact on the world and the people around you.

Today’s challenge is to pray and thank God for our community.

Thank you for taking part in this challenge with us. We hope that you have a wonderful Christmas where you’re able to stop and think about the reason we celebrate it – that a small baby was born to have a big impact on this world.

24th Dec 2018

In our advent challenges we’ve been thinking about how small actions can make a big impact in the lives of others. We’ve also been thinking about how stories are a great way of understanding each other and the world around us.

Your challenge today is to read the following story, maybe by yourself or with others, and think about what the story could mean – you can use the points and questions at the bottom of the post to help you!

The Selfish Giant – Oscar Wilde

Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to go and play in the Giant’s garden.

It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there over the grass stood beautiful flowers like stars, and there were twelve peach-trees that in the spring-time broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them. “How happy we are here!” they cried to each other.

One day the Giant came back. He had been to visit his friend the Cornish ogre, and had stayed with him for seven years. After the seven years were over he had said all that he had to say, for his conversation was limited, and he determined to return to his own castle. When he arrived he saw the children playing in the garden. “What are you doing here?” he cried in a very gruff voice, and the children ran away.

“My own garden is my own garden,” said the Giant; “any one can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself.” So he built a high wall all round it, and put up a notice-board.

TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED

He was a very selfish Giant.

The poor children had now nowhere to play. They tried to play on the road, but the road was very dusty and full of hard stones, and they did not like it. They used to wander round the high wall when their lessons were over, and talk about the beautiful garden inside. “How happy we were there,” they said to each other.

Then the Spring came, and all over the country there were little blossoms and little birds. Only in the garden of the Selfish Giant it was still winter. The birds did not care to sing in it as there were no children, and the trees forgot to blossom. Once a beautiful flower put its head out from the grass, but when it saw the notice-board it was so sorry for the children that it slipped back into the ground again, and went off to sleep. The only people who were pleased were the Snow and the Frost. “Spring has forgotten this garden,” they cried, “so we will live here all the year round.” The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the trees silver. Then they invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. He was wrapped in furs, and he roared all day about the garden, and blew the chimney-pots down. “This is a delightful spot,” he said, “we must ask the Hail on a visit.” So the Hail came. Every day for three hours he rattled on the roof of the castle till he broke most of the slates, and then he ran round and round the garden as fast as he could go. He was dressed in grey, and his breath was like ice.

“I cannot understand why the Spring is so late in coming,” said the Selfish Giant, as he sat at the window and looked out at his cold white garden; “I hope there will be a change in the weather.”

But the Spring never came, nor the Summer. The Autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, but to the Giant’s garden she gave none. “He is too selfish,” she said. So it was always Winter there, and the North Wind, and the Hail, and the Frost, and the Snow danced about through the trees.

One morning the Giant was lying awake in bed when he heard some lovely music. It sounded so sweet to his ears that he thought it must be the King’s musicians passing by. It was really only a little linnet singing outside his window, but it was so long since he had heard a bird sing in his garden that it seemed to him to be the most beautiful music in the world. Then the Hail stopped dancing over his head, and the North Wind ceased roaring, and a delicious perfume came to him through the open casement. “I believe the Spring has come at last,” said the Giant; and he jumped out of bed and looked out.

What did he see?

He saw a most wonderful sight. Through a little hole in the wall the children had crept in, and they were sitting in the branches of the trees. In every tree that he could see there was a little child. And the trees were so glad to have the children back again that they had covered themselves with blossoms, and were waving their arms gently above the children’s heads. The birds were flying about and twittering with delight, and the flowers were looking up through the green grass and laughing. It was a lovely scene, only in one corner it was still winter. It was the farthest corner of the garden, and in it was standing a little boy. He was so small that he could not reach up to the branches of the tree, and he was wandering all round it, crying bitterly. The poor tree was still quite covered with frost and snow, and the North Wind was blowing and roaring above it. “Climb up! little boy,” said the Tree, and it bent its branches down as low as it could; but the boy was too tiny.

And the Giant’s heart melted as he looked out. “How selfish I have been!” he said; “now I know why the Spring would not come here. I will put that poor little boy on the top of the tree, and then I will knock down the wall, and my garden shall be the children’s playground for ever and ever.” He was really very sorry for what he had done.

So he crept downstairs and opened the front door quite softly, and went out into the garden. But when the children saw him they were so frightened that they all ran away, and the garden became winter again. Only the little boy did not run, for his eyes were so full of tears that he did not see the Giant coming. And the Giant stole up behind him and took him gently in his hand, and put him up into the tree. And the tree broke at once into blossom, and the birds came and sang on it, and the little boy stretched out his two arms and flung them round the Giant’s neck, and kissed him. And the other children, when they saw that the Giant was not wicked any longer, came running back, and with them came the Spring. “It is your garden now, little children,” said the Giant, and he took a great axe and knocked down the wall. And when the people were going to market at twelve o’clock they found the Giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen.

All day long they played, and in the evening they came to the Giant to bid him good-bye.

“But where is your little companion?” he said: “the boy I put into the tree.” The Giant loved him the best because he had kissed him.

“We don’t know,” answered the children; “he has gone away.”

“You must tell him to be sure and come here to-morrow,” said the Giant. But the children said that they did not know where he lived, and had never seen him before; and the Giant felt very sad.

Every afternoon, when school was over, the children came and played with the Giant. But the little boy whom the Giant loved was never seen again. The Giant was very kind to all the children, yet he longed for his first little friend, and often spoke of him. “How I would like to see him!” he used to say.

Years went over, and the Giant grew very old and feeble. He could not play about any more, so he sat in a huge armchair, and watched the children at their games, and admired his garden. “I have many beautiful flowers,” he said; “but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all.”

One winter morning he looked out of his window as he was dressing. He did not hate the Winter now, for he knew that it was merely the Spring asleep, and that the flowers were resting.

Suddenly he rubbed his eyes in wonder, and looked and looked. It certainly was a marvellous sight. In the farthest corner of the garden was a tree quite covered with lovely white blossoms. Its branches were all golden, and silver fruit hung down from them, and underneath it stood the little boy he had loved.

Downstairs ran the Giant in great joy, and out into the garden. He hastened across the grass, and came near to the child. And when he came quite close his face grew red with anger, and he said, “Who hath dared to wound thee?” For on the palms of the child’s hands were the prints of two nails, and the prints of two nails were on the little feet.

“Who hath dared to wound thee?” cried the Giant; “tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him.” “Nay!” answered the child; “but these are the wounds of Love.”

“Who art thou?” said the Giant, and a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child.

And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, “You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.”

And when the children ran in that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.

  • How did the giant’s actions affect the people around him?
  • How did his actions affect the world around him?
  • How do your actions positively or negatively affect the world and people around you?
  • Is there anything else in the story that stuck out to you?

We’ve done lots of small things during this advent challenge that have a big impact on others – what has been your favourite? Is there anything that has surprised you? What actions could you carry on doing in the new year?

22nd Dec 2018

All around us this weekend are people trying to prepare for a few days of visiting family and celebrating. Some people may be doing last minute shopping, preparing food and wrapping presents. And I bet there’s lots of people doing cleaning so that they don’t have to do lots over Christmas!

How could you help your friends, neighbours or family with some pre-Christmas chores? I’m helping my mummy clean her house which has recently had some building work done! Let’s get our helpful hats on! 🙌🏼

23rd Dec 2018

We’ve talked about the importance of sharing stories. Well, today we have the opportunity to do just that!

Come to Chapel this morning at 10am where we will have the chance to share our advent challenge stories with one another, and celebrate the coming of Jesus at Christmas!

21st Dec 2018

Happy Friday everyone! Just the weekend to go and then we’re there! How have you found this Advent Challenge? We’d love to hear your feedback – also, this Sunday morning at HBC (10am) we will have an opportunity to share our stories from this season. It would be great to see you there!

Today’s challenge is an important one this close to Christmas. Christmas TV adverts often show the importance of being with people, but do they just give us that sweet “aww that’s nice” feeling or do they prompt us into action? A survey released earlier in the year showed that 5% of adults reported feeling lonely “often” or “always”. That would suggest that there is a large amount of people within our own community who suffer from loneliness.

What could you do to reach out to the lonely within our community? Can you invite someone over for your Christmas dinner? Could you go and see them with some cake? Even talking and saying hello to someone can make a big difference.

To read more about loneliness and the impact it can have on people’s lives click on the following link:

https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org

20th Dec 2018

Today’s challenge is another one to target the STUFF that we so easily accumulate. Can you find at least ONE item that you can donate to charity; a book, an item of clothing, or a toy?

I recently saw a post on the internet where a parent showed a photo of their kids Santa Sacks under the tree. On Christmas Eve the children fill their sacks with a number of their toys (that are in good condition) to donate to Santa to give to other children. I thought this was a brilliant way of not only decluttering before Christmas, but also instilling the idea of giving to our kids.

How else could we donate STUFF to charity? We would love to hear your ideas!

19th Dec 2018

Today’s challenge is one of my FAVOURITE, and probably quite a tricky one if you’re a book lover…!

We’ve already talked about the importance of stories and I bet that many of you have a favourite one. Which books have inspired you, or make you feel nostalgic for your childhood? Are there books that have guided or helped you through hard times?

Today your challenge is to give away one of your favourite books! You could give away a used one or maybe you could buy a new copy for someone as their Christmas present? Make sure you tell them why you’ve passed on this book and why it’s your favourite!

Two that are in my favourites list that I’m going to pass on are The Little Prince and The Ragamuffin Gospel… What’s yours??