Friday, 23 December 2011

Advent Nativity Service

There was nothing the innkeeper liked more than a good night's sleep, but this night was very different. Mary, Joseph, shepherds, bright stars, angels and kings all came to disturb him, and the birth of a very special baby transformed him from an over-tired grump to a joyful inspired man.

This was the story told by Junior Church children and adults in our nativity service. Tom made an excellent innkeeper, going up and down stairs to bed many time, and all our characters played their parts with skill and enjoyment. The angel choir was second to none, singing "may you find peace...". There were angels of all ages, from under one year old to the most senior members of the congregation.

Our involvement in Christmas worship last year was called off by snow, so this year we planned to be involved earlier in the advent season. We used a more informal story as the basis for a drama presentation which people could join in on the day with little or no rehearsal. We enjoyed the preparation and we were happy to welcome new members of the cast on the day!

Being involved in children's work in the church is a privilege and a joy which encourages everyone's faith to grow - children and adults alike. This advent has been a good example of this.

Sue Walkling

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Family Advent Service - Church House

I LOVE to attend worship. It is always challenging and thought-provoking and I always leave church feeling a whole lot better than I did when I walked in! This morning’s service at Church House was another wonderful experience of seeing the children joining in, really being a part of everything that was going on.
This is one of the main aspects of worship at St David’s Uniting which I enjoy: it’s interactive! Both the young people and children and us bigger kids (the adults) had fun making paper prayer chains, linking our prayers to one another’s and hanging them at Church House and, later, making the branches of the Christmas tree with our paper hands, on which we had written about how our hands can be used to help others.
We thought about the people involved in the story of Christ’s birth and how they might use their hands:

Cooking, sewing, collecting water:
tasks of being a dutiful daughter.
Wonder, worry, rumbling tum,
part of being an expectant mum.
Now I’m packing, panicking, praying,
wondering what the others are saying.
Hoping that Joseph will make me his wife,
who’d want to travel at this time of life?

Hands used to tools and working with wood,
that does what you want it to, just as it should.
so with people; they’re harder to shape,

and now me and Mary are caught in a scrape.
Hands used to hammering, sawing and planing,
now lead a donkey and wife with complaining.

The Innkeeper
Rough hands, busy hands, no time to stop hands.
Sore hands, serving hands, wave ‘Go away!’ hands.
‘Wait!’ hands, think hands,
‘Where can they go?’ hands

Look at my hands with ground in dirt,
that care for sheep when they’ve been hurt.
Holding a staff to guide the flocks.
Scaring wolves by throwing rocks.

Shielding eyes from dazzling light.
Calming sheep that had a fright.
Pointing to the place we seek.
Finger strokes a baby’s cheek.

Wise men
Soft hands saved from manual labour
trace stars, then share with a neighbour.
Fingers counting, calculating,
work out dates for which we’re waiting.
The signs align, we’ve used our brains,
now our hands are holding reins.
Our songs reminded us of all that we had thought about through the service and the children did us proud with their accompaniment on their hand-made bells.
I feel the onset of our Christmas celebrations, now, on this 3rd Sunday in Advent but, of course, the truth is, every day is Christmas day: God sent Jesus to stay with us though every day of our lives – this morning’s service reminded me of that happy fact! Nadolig Llawen i bawb.

Claire Hughes 11 December 2011

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Collecting for Pontypridd Foodbank

It is unbelievable in this day and age that people have to choose between spending money on food or on heating, or rent. But that is indeed the case. A BBC news article (external link) reports that a new Foodbank is being opened every day, due to growing demand across the UK.

Foodbanks in the Rhondda and in Pontyclun have been serving people in this borough for a while. Both are run by church communities, under the auspices of the Trussell Trust (external link). There is need for one in the Pontypridd area.

Volunteers from various churches invited Tesco shoppers yesterday to add one item from the Foodbank shopping list to their own basket when they shopped, and to leave it with us as they left the store. The aim is to build up a stock of 1.5 tonnes of food - which is what is needed before opening a Foodbank.

Some people's generosity is astounding - an elderly man handed me two plastic bags full of goods he wanted

to donate. It was probably more than he'd purchase for his own use on that occasion. There are others, of course, who just don't want to know! Overall the response was. I thought, encouraging.

Local churches, and the University Chaplaincy are also serving as ongoing food collection points.

St Lukes Church in Rhydyfelin is co-ordinating the project. Once the target quantity of food has been collected, volunteers will be trained by the Trussell Trust, and vouchers issued to professionals who come into contact with people in crisis. We hope that the new Foodbank will be up and running early in the New Year.

For more information, and if you'd like to help out, contact

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Our Interfaith Visit to the Mosque in Cardiff

On 30th September a small group of us from St David's Uniting Church visited the Mosque in Cathays, Cardiff. We were warmly welcomed and sat through Friday prayers, after which explanations were given as to the Imam's part and the times to prostrate and bow.

That was followed by members of the congregation (all men and one woman) joining us for questions and discussions.

We were then shown around every part of the mosque, including the library which contained splendid copies of the Qu'ran. Copies were given to us as we left, as well as a booklet setting out the tenets of the Muslim faith, and a leaflet with all the activities run by the Mosque.

The group felt that this was a worthwhile event and look forward to further contacts and visits.

Thanks to Russell Howells for sharing this experience

Hope for Freedom

St David's Justice and peace group, with others from St David's Uniting, Castle Square URC and St Dyfrigs Catholic church gathered in 'Hope for Freedom' at Castle Square Church on 1st December.

We learned about the horrific practice of stoning, which is legal practice in Iran (and other countries) in cases of adultery. The Iranian government is currently reviewing whether or not this practice should be included in its penal code. Amnesty International is lobbying the Iranian government to comply with international law, and we addedd our voice to the campaign.

We remembered individuals who are imprisoned in different countries and for different reasons, all of them victims of injustice in some way. We signed cards to individuals and letters of appeal to persons in authority who could make a positive difference in each case.

Sometimes campaigns are successful and prisoners are released. This is but the beginning of a long road to freedom. The organisation Freedom from Torture provides aftercare to victims of torture. Through psychological and physical therapy, counselling and medical treatment they help survivors to slowly rebuild their lives. Often this involves making a claim for asylum in a country such as the UK.

In our closing reflections we prayed for those in captivity and also, this being World Aids Day, those whose lives are touched by HIV and AIDS.

The stories we hear may be gloomy but our hope is rooted in the resurrection of Jesus and the belief that love is ultimately victorious. By our solidarity and our positive actions we help to keep the flame of hope alive.