United Reformed



1 Cowper

Street, Ipswich IP4 5JD

Web Address:






Ministers: Rev Adam Earle and Rev David Rees Office:
E-mail: Web:
Tel:01473 724961 secr etary@stjohnsurcipswich.org.uk www.stjohnsurcipswich.org.uk
RECR EATING CHRISTMAS? “And she gave birt h to her firstborn son and wrapped him in ban ds of clot h, and laid him in a mange r, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7 I remember, from childhood, the annual Christmas ritual of purchasing copies of the Radio and TV Times. Each member of the family, armed with a pen, would work through the bumper editions indicating things we would like t o watch. There was then the challenge o f resolving the problems if two programmes clashed - we had n o way of recording things o ff air to watch later. Christmas T V was a rich diet of familiar and new items. For me the “Two Ronnies Christmas Special”, the “Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special” and the Walt Disney fi lm clips compilation were high o n the list of essential viewing. Since then, part of m y Christmas routine is r e-watching on DVD or via “on-demand” services such treasures as Delia Smith’s Christmas, various comedy specials and, if I want to experience a combination o f horror and humorous disbelief, “Fanny Cradock’s Cooks for Christmas”. She really was breathtakingly patronising and bossy. There is a hankering for the viewing treasures of the past. This i s part of something that I have caught myself doing every year ever since I passed from the magical days o f childhood into the sobering days of adulthood. Each year I get excited by the prospect of Christmas and invest considerable time and, probably, far too much money i n trying t o r e-create the feelings o f Christmas from m y youth. Each year I cling to the hope that, somehow, this year I will succeed in recapturing that sense of wonder and anticipation. When the “big day” fi nally passes there is a sense that it wasn’t all that I had hoped. No amount of time and money invested in what Betjeman wisely identi fi ed a s “fripperies”, will somehow achieve the unachievable.
Preachers, pastors, priests and ministers have , for centuries, entreated us not to become s o engaged with the trappings and trimmings of the celebration that we lose sight of the reality o f Christmas. This we fi nd in the humble nature o f Christ’s birth and the experience o f Christmas for the majority o f the world’s population today. For s o many, Christmas is a worrying and stressful time when the expectations of others and those we impose o n ourselves pile on the pressure and stretch already limited resources t o breaking point. For many, Christmas will bring n o relief from the struggle and fear or con fl ict, war or abuse and the day will pass unnoticed o r without any distinction. There is nothing wrong with celebration, in gathering with friends and family t o share a special time especially in the dark days of winter, but it does us well to approach these things with an honest and realistic perspective. At the heart of Christmas i s, o r should be, the shocking, even scandalous humility of the fi rst Christmas it was not, o n the face o r it, an extraordinary day business as usual, struggle as usual, danger a s usual even for the family of Jesus. He was just a s vulnerable a s any newborn, just as needy a s any child born into a poor family. He was born into a n occupied nation and early in life joined the many refugees that continue to seek safety in other nations. But… this child, this tiny, helpless, humble child, is the source of all hope - an expression of God’s love and care beyond our wildest imaginings -salvation and life for all. True satisfaction is not found in recreating the past or investing in the fl eeting pleasures of the season true satisfaction is found in God alone, made known and available to us through Christ. Let’s celebrate Christ this Christmas and do so with a prayerful eye to the reality of the world and the hope that only Jesus Christ can bring. Revd Adam Earle
Sh epherds In Luke, we hear of the shepherds abiding in the fi elds, and they are told by the angel that their Saviour was born in David’s town - Christ the Lord. I thought I would bring you a story about the shepherds written by Alan Barker: Jake was a shepherd and he loved to take care of his sheep on the hillsides near Bethlehem. Every day the fl ocks followed him. Each night he stayed close t o his sheep to keep them from harm. He wasn’t afraid of the dark shadows or the strange noises but he was afraid o f singing. Sometimes after sunset the shepherds sat round their camp fi re and took turns t o sing songs. Jake never ever joined in. He slipped away saying he must count his sheep. Really Jake was unhappy. He wanted to sing but he couldn’t . He was frightened o f forgetting the words and that his voice would croak. He was afraid the others would laugh. One very starry night while the other shepherds were singing and Jake was alone with his fl ock, a light suddenly appeared. He was terri fi ed! But a voice said “Don’t be afraid, I’ve have some happy news! A very special baby has been born! G o to Bethlehem and see for yourself. Look i n the stable. Jake thought he must be dreaming ! He rubbed his eyes and saw a host o f angels, and a choir of angels fi lled the sky! The angels began t o sing. Jake had never heard such lovely music. A wonderful song of peace and harmony fi lled the air. Even the stars seemed t o listen and after a moment, Jake joined in. His voice sounded clear and strong! He sang with joy! At last the song ended, and h e ran t o tell the other shepherds but they would not believe him. Sing us the song they said. At fi rst Jake sang softly, but soon his voice grew louder. He sang the beautiful song he had heard. He sang o f peace and happiness. Everyone was amazed because Jake sang like an angel. The shepherds gasped saying “It must be true” A special baby has been born. We must go and see him! The shepherds hurried across the fields
towards the sleeping town. The brilliant star led them t o the stable! They lifted the latch and went in! What’s his name? asked Jake. We’ve called him Jesus. Can I sing to him asked Jake? Of course, you can, said Mary. So Jake sang and everyone listened t o his peaceful lullaby. The shepherds had to return to their fl ocks They danced, clapped and sang! And who sang the loudest! You’ve guessed - Jake. It is a lovely story which gives us the message that we are able to do most things if we ask for God’s help to do it. SO HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL WITH BEST WISHES adghjklpr89021qeyio mnbz
TREASU RERS REPORT You are thanked for Offerings in October of £1,882 and donations to the Communion Fund, in November of £43 for Embrace the Middle East charity. We were able t o send a total o f £380 to the Link to Hope Shoe Box Appea l. Regarding the Church Garden restoration project, we received £1000 from the vehicle Insurers to cover the cost of site clearance and towards purchase of new shrubs/plants etc. We have received a very generous donation t o purchase a new bench seat for the garden. Should anyone wish to contribute t o the shrubs/plants costs, this would be gratefully received. As always, we are extremely grateful for your continued financial support. Mary A and Richa rd W The Church Gardens BENCH Wehave been very fortunate to have been given an anonymous donation for the bench in the front garden from a daughter in memory of her father. It is called a WAVE bench and will be brown in colour. I a m not sure when it will arrive but i t will enable people t o sit while waiting for the bus. We thank the daughter very much and our Lord who does provide for our church. God bless, Sar a.
Ne ws of Member s and Frien ds Brian and Angie Savage say they have become members of Park Baptist Church, Great Yarmouth, over the last year. They also say thank you, to their friends at St John's URC Ipswich, for a long and supportive association. Pastorate Zoom Bible Studies in December and January Our Monthly Tuesday morning Bible Studies in December and January will both be via Zoom a t 10.30 am. On December 12th bring your thoughts about the joy and meaning o f the Christmas story in our day and age and your choice of Bible reading, Christmas carol or poem. It can be a favourite passage from the Old or New Testament or one that you puzzle over and would like to discuss. Or it could be a carol whose words sum up something o f the meaning of Christmas for you o r whose words seem strange t o your thinking. Please be prepared t o read the Bible passage or give the reference, or to read the carol or poem and t o brie fl y explain your choice. It will be good t o share together and expand our understanding. Our fi rst meeting in the New Year will be on January 9th th when the theme will be ‘Recognising when and how God calls’. We might use both Old and New Testament passages from the lectionary, namely: 1Samuel 3:1-10, and John 1:43-51. When logging on the meeting ID is 889 953 6542 . If you have no internet you can use your phone by dialling 02034815240 o r 01304601196 and when prompted enter the number 889 953 6542 El ai ne
November we focused our winter nights o n learning new skills from the Skills for my Future theme. We learnt about di ff erent types o f tools for use around the house and garden and how to use them correctly. The highlight of this work was a visit to the ActivShed at the Cress Pavilion where the girls learnt how to use hammers, screwdrivers and other tools to build a bug hotel. The noise in the Pavilion was very loud a t one point as everyone hammered away building their bug boxes and with only a couple o f miss hits where thumbs got in the way! We worked toward our R e i n d e e r challenge badge leading up t o C h r i s t m a s making reindeer food and reindeer biscuits. We ended the term with a Reindeer party where we held a reindeer relay, pinned the nose on the reindeer and played reindeer hoopla. Everyone had great fun! In 2023, Girlguiding launched its largest rebrand in its long history to tackle “outdated perceptions” of the charity. The brand introduced a new Promise badge with an updated Trefoil. The brand purpose is a t the heart o f everything w e do - we help all girls know they can do anything. Girlguiding is a family, all our sections have the Girlguiding masterbrand characteristics o f curious and courageous, but each section also has its own unique personality: Brownies are energetic and excitable we certainly live up t o this each week! In January we held a Hootenanny and sprung a surprise party for Brown Owl for her special birthday! We started our Spring term by welcoming lots o f new girls to our pack. We spent time thinking about the things we enjoy most about Brownies, learning our promise and exploring what it means t o each o f us. Our Young Leader Swallow made her promise again as an adult. On 22 nd February girl members all over the world celebrate Thinking Day, the birthday of our founders Lord and Lady Baden-Powell. We celebrated in our pack this year b y learning all about our Trefoil and things from around the world.
“Through fun, friendship, challe nge and adventure we empower girls to fi nd their voice, inspir ing them t o discover t he best in themselves and to make a positive di ff erence in their community.” Since October 2022 we have had lots of fun learning new things and making new friends as girls join our pack many of them moving up from the Rainbow unit at the church.
using pointillism which is a technique of painting in which small, distinct dots of colour are applied in patterns t o form an image. The designs were lovely and the girls enjoyed making these and giving them a s presents for Mother’s Day. We had great excitement i n May as the Kings coronation approached. We made a card and sent this t o Buckingham Palace to congratulate His Majesty. The girls were also excited t o learn that Brown Owl had visited Buckingham Palace to atten d the Coronation Garden Party to mark her 40+ years’ service as a volunteer with Girlguiding. The girls enjoyed experimenting with milk and food colouring to make patterns and also made and read secret messages. As the warmer weather started to appear we were able to get out and about in our local area and parks. We had been learning about map reading skills, using a compass and the country code. All really useful things to know i f you’re going out and about exploring the countryside. We were able to continue our experiments on a larger scale while at our local park by creating all things that fl y far and high. We had great fun making paper aeroplanes and rockets from pots fi lled with water and a fi zzy tablet, some o f them didn’t work too well but others created much excitement as they fl ew very high indeed. More fun was had making huge bubbles with canes and string. We also held quiet and thoughtful times too while working toward our Mindfulness badge where the girls created beautiful “Grateful jars” fi lled with many things they are grateful for. We had mindfulness moments at the park where we were just quiet and listened t o the sounds around us, inhaled the smells and used our senses t o explore the nature around us. We listened to our bodies a s we relaxed and exercised and learnt about our heartbeat and rhythm.
As usual the highlight o f our summer term was our beach party at Felixstowe we had fun, with water races, doing beach art, eating chips and paddling! There were squeals o f excitement and the smiling faces really did fi nish o ff our summer term on a high!
Many of the girls have gained their baking badge during the year and have created some amazing cakes for the “bake a story” clause of the badge. One in particular caught our eye, this wonderful creation by Oshi for the Little Mermaid story. We have just completed our inventing badge which involved learning about women inventors, creating our own design and then building the design from materials. Some o f the designs were practical and some were just fun but we had a great night building our designs. As the girls have gained their badges, worked on skills builders and unit meeting activities they have been working toward their awards. We are really proud of three girls in particular who have gained their Brownie Bronze Award. Congratulati ons t o Gra ce, Freya and D olly. We have just had the honour of being guests of our Mayor, Lynne Mortimer and took tea and biscuits in the Mayor’s Parlour. The girls enjoyed dressing up as part of the mayor’s procession. We were honoured that two of the girls were able to make their promise and be presented with their badges by the mayor, well don e Jessica and Lai la . It was also a surpri se fo r Dolly to be presented with her Brownie Bronze Award by the mayor.
Our numbers have remained more or less the same again this year at around 18 girls. We are grateful t o the church for the support they provide throughout the year and t o our weekly door stewards who keep us safe while we’re meeting. As always, I’d like to thank Lisa and Kathy and Chloe for their support throughout the year, we’re a good team and have lots of fun while running our weekly meetings. If you’re interested in joining us a s a volunteer or you have a girl who would like t o join Girlguiding please register your interest here: www.girlguiding.o rg.uk/get.involved/ Yvonne Williams, Leader 40th Ipswich Browni es, November 2023 Report from 2 nd Ipswich Rainbows This year, the Rainbow pack has grown in size, with us now running at 14 girls with 3 more looking t o join. The girls have taken part in many activities centred around the skill builder’s badge. These see the girls complete weekly sessions around a common theme which earns them the fi rst stage badge. The girls have worked towards:- Innervate here the girls carried out science experiments, looking a t forces, learnt about coding by being a robot, and thought about ideas for the future. Be Well the girls focused on their mental health and looking after others as well as thinking about their own and others feelings and emotions. Influence – where the focus was the girls thinking about having their voice heard. This saw them developing a sense of their own voice and understanding that people had different views. Aside from the skill builder’s badge, the girls completed a summer challenge badge where they took part in a range o f seaside related crafts, such as making coloured sands and painting stones which fi nished by having a very soggy, but fun, trip to the beach followed by ice cream. This year w e have also challenged our girls t o follow their own interests and complete the interest badges from their badge book. Lots o f the girls have enjoyed carrying out activities t o earn
them, such as their artist and family tree badge. We also saw one of our older Rainbows gain her silver award badge for great commitment to her badge work. While our unit continues t o fl ourish, much of this is down to a huge demand for the girls to start at 4 years old. We currently have about 5 girls in the group that are still only 4 and this has challenged us from a planning perspective a s we have had t o adapt t o allow for girls who in many cases have very limited literacy skills and very short concentration, compared to the older Rainbows. As a pack, we still run on a very tight budget and unfortunately the rise of a ffi liation fees t o Guiding, and cost o f living, has challenged us fi nancially. In September we put our termly subs up to £35 to try and ensure we survive once our subscription has been paid. Thankfully the increase in subs does not seem to have been a problem for any o f the current girls. While the number o f girls is up, behind the scenes we are heavily reliant o n support from other leaders t o run the group every other week due to my work commitments not allowing m e to attend. We are striving to fi nd a full-time warranted leader to come on board, but unfortunately as yet have had no luck and this makes us very anxious as the group can only rely on support from others for s o long. I would like to extend m y thanks to Gwen and Natalie for their continued support and working with our rota o f leaders. Also my thanks include Yvonne and Mary for their support in running meetings when I’m not around. Kay Hard – Rainbow Guider ST JOHN’S PLAYTIME PRE-SC HOOL Last year was extremely busy in preschool, sessions were almost full and we had a much higher number of children with special educational needs. There was a lot of extra pressure on staff to ensure that the children’s needs were met. We have also continued the enrolment of 18-month-old children which has brought additional challenges meaning that we have had to make adjustments to our environment. Currently, we are very quiet and
throughout the year. There are funding changes coming into e ff ect from April 2024 which should have a positive impact on our numbers. All children get 15 hours the term after they turn three but from April, qualifying two-year-olds will also get 15 hours a week if both parents are working. We are already starting to have enquiries speci fi cally regarding the new funding. We remain very active in the community and have been regularly visiting the residents in Shaftesbury House and taking the children to Piper’s Vale gymnastics. We have also arranged termly ‘stay and play’ sessions and invited the ‘Let’s Talk Reading’ team into preschool on a regular basis which the children really enjoy. Fundraising events have been quieter than usual
over the last couple of years but we still enjoy doing a Nativity performance for the families in December. While numbers of children have been low, we have been able to revamp many o f our areas in setting and really build on our professional development. We have had t o replace our entire sandpit and decking area due t o wear and tear over the years. I t had become a safety hazard so needed immediate attention. We would like to finish by saying thank you to the Church for their ongoing support and understanding. Natalie, Mary, and Megan
I have found that thinking about Christmas Moments in the p ast gives opp ortunities to reca ll inten se nearness t o individuals past and present. It also helped m e think positively about things for the future. I was able t o recall, for example: a sense of their love for others, visualise their smiles, appreciate their full presence. I have set out below some ‘snow fl akes’ - triggers for you t o meditate quietly on Christmas Moments of your own. You might want to: choose one for each day of Advent; or set a time each day to meditate. John B Editor
Catch up with friends
Sunday Morni ng Wo rshi p Sara Pells
Thought for the Day
To get in touc h and s end con tributi on s t o Advance please use the ema il:
advance@stjohnsurcipswich.o  rg.  uk Please note the deadl ine for the January Advance is 22nd Dec ember
Aft er Ser vice Coffee R ot a
Services at St Jo hn’s URC are at10:45 normal ly Date Service Le ader(s)
03 Dec 2:30 PM 10 Dec Toy Ser vice & Commun io n Rev J ohn Cook
17 Dec
Morni ng Worship Rev D avid Rees
17 Dec 6:00 PM
Castle Hill Carol Service Revs Da vid R ees & Adam Earle
24 Dec
Advent Carol Ser vice Revs Da vid R ees & Adam Earle (No Morning Servi ce)
Date Coffee Rot a Names 03 Dec Maureen and Jenn y 10 Dec Dorothy and Co li n 17 Dec Sh eil a and An drew 24 Dec Jill B and Jen ny 31 Dec Greta an d Hazel
“The Lord is coming, always c oming. When you ha ve ear s to hear a nd eyes to se e, yo u will re cogn ize him at any moment of your life. Life is A dvent; life is r ec ogn ising the coming of the Lord.” Henri Nouwen, Dutch priest and theologian (1932-1996)
Christmas Day Worshi p 10:30AM
348 Rev D avid Rees rjl Kj
25 Dec
07 Jan Mary A and Paul ine
Date Event
Not es
03 Dec
Advent Carol Service
2:30 PM 10 Dec Commun ion
Instead of 3 rd D ec
17 Dec
Carol Ser vice Castle Hill
6:00 PM
“How did it get so late so soon? It's night bef ore it's afternoon. December is here before it 's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” Dr. Seuss Happy New Year 2024
31 Dec
Morni ng Worship Keith Scar ff
07 Ja n 2024
Morni ng Worship and Commun io n Rev D avid Rees
TOY SERVICE 10 TH DECEMBER  We are once again collecting gifts for the mothers and children at Lighthouse Women’s Aid. I have put up a list of suitable gifts in Room 1. They would also appreciate Gift Cards in £10 denominations and wrapping paper, gift tags and Sellotape. You are always really generous and your generosity is really appreciated.   Mary Aldous
Please note there is a Watch Night Service on Christmas Eve starting at 11:30 PM led by Peter Dawson
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