This week we've got some fun ideas for small group socials and a reminder about Christmas hampers. If you're in town don't forget to check out our Christmas trees outside the church and The Branch, and please keep spreading the word about The Big Give.
Advent is a time for preparation and looking forward to the amazing thing that is to come. As we're probably all experiencing at the moment, waiting isn't easy, and the Bible describes the whole of creation groaning, as well as we ourselves groaning as we wait eagerly and expectantly.
And the Bible also says that the Spirit "helps us in our weakness", interceding for us in our place of frustration, as we wait and hope.
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Romans 8:19, 22-25
Sunday 6th December 10.30am - we'll still be online, so please look out for our usual Sunday morning video. Sunday 6th December 6pm - there will be an Encounter service, meeting physically, in church. Sunday 13th December 10.30am - we'll be gathering for a service in church, which will also be livestreamed.
Thursday 10th December 11am - service in church
ENCOUNTER - THIS SUNDAY!
ENCOUNTER WILL ALSO BE LIVESTREAMED! HEAD TO OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL.
We’re really excited to gather together in church (in a safe and physically distanced way, obviously) to worship The Lord at Encounter this Sunday evening, 6th December. We’ll begin worshipping together at 6:00pm in St Mary’s Church, but it would probably be best to get there for 5:45pm, so you’ve got time to be ushered to your seat by our lovely welcome team.
In light of current restrictions, a few things will be slightly different to how things used to happen at Encounter:
We won’t be having our normal café beforehand or afterwards, but you might still have a little treat waiting for you in your seat!
We won’t be able to sing, but we will still be able to worship, pray and encounter our faithful God.
So come along to enjoy an evening worshipping together, hearing some thoughts from our speaker and spending time in the presence of God. We’re excited, expectant and looking forward to seeing you there!
A huge thank you to our volunteers, who have packed Christmas decoration bags, to go on our Christmas trees, for a combined total of 8 hours!
This weekend (Friday 4th - Sunday 6th December), along with the Methodist Church and with lots of other organisations in the town, we're joining in with the Chipping Norton Christmas Tree Trail. You can find our beautifully decorated trees at the church and at The Branch, abundant with treats for you to pick and take home with you.
Maps of the trail will be available from outside the Methodist Church from Friday 4th December and over the weekend.
Thank you so much for all the gifts we've already received towards the Christmas hampers.
If you'd like to contribute here's what you need to do:
Click the button below to go onto the gift list.
Scroll down and find something you'd like to give.
Click on "reserve".
Fill in your details.
Buy your item from wherever you like. (Please ignore the bit that gives you the opportunity to browse in various online shops, this is just standard on this website, just buy from wherever you like!)
Leave your items at the Parish Rooms or in the vicarage porch, or bring to church any time up until 13th December.
The lists are being updated daily, so please do have a look by clicking the button below.
So far we have raised just over £6,000 through The Big Give Christmas Challenge. Our target is £20,000 so we need to keep going. We would love to encourage you to spread the word about the campaign and the opportunity to make a donation that will be doubled!! Please tell neighbours, friends and work colleagues about it. We are not looking for huge donations, every £5 counts and we would really love everyone in the town to feel that they have contributed to our vision for The Branch.
You will find leaflets in all the supermarkets around town and in the church porch and the parish rooms. Please do also follow us on Instagram @the_branch_chipping_norton and share our posts on the St Mary's Church Chipping Norton Facebook page.
Thank you so much for all your help and support!!
SETTING A WATCH
We'll be continuing to meet to pray via Zoom at 6am and 6pm daily for our world, nation, community, church and each other.
If you're looking for an idea for an online social for your small group or simply looking to have virtual fun with friends and family then this might be just the thing!
Macmillan Cancer Support have put together four online games for groups of friends to join in with together. Decide whether you're game for a quiz, keen to solve a mystery or eager to escape. They email you everything you need for a fun night with a difference.
Jo Rees says, "We did a Macmillan Cancer Support murder mystery zoom party for our home group social. Great fun!"
Emily says, "I didn't get to do an escape room with my friends this year, so we did an online one. It was really great to meet up and do something different."
Everyone has questions about what life is all about. We believe that everyone should have a chance to share those questions, explore the Christian faith and give their point of view.
Alpha is a place where you can ask those questions in an honest, friendly and open environment.
In recent months at St Mary's, God has been extending our vision to serve the town in an exciting, ambitious and creative way at a time of substantially increasing need for many within our community...
So many people in our community feel the weight of debt, and we are passionate about helping to release anyone we can from a life sentence of debt and poverty. At St Mary's we are working with Christians Against Poverty to bring good news, hope and freedom. If you need support, we'd love to hear from you.