the time of preparation for Christmas. A time that expresses the
joyful and spiritual expectation of the birth of Jesus Christ.
season of Advent commences at the beginning of December and continues
up to the Nativity of Our Lord that is celebrated on Christmas Day.
season is marked by lighting Advent candles set in an Advent wreath
at the front of the church. The wreath is circular in shape representing
the Trinity - no begining or end. Evergreens that decorate it remind
us of eternal life. There are five candles, the purple are lit each
week of Advent and a white candle is lit on Christmas day.
The altar is the main focus
of the church and is set at the east end. In Old Testament times
an altar was a stone table on which sacrifices were made. The story
of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22:1-14) shows that God did not want
human sacrifices; from then into New Testament times sacrifices
were of animals or birds. Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross
and this is remembered in the Holy Eucharist which is celebrated
at the altar with the bread and wine reminding us of the body and
blood of Jesus.
the Last Supper (the final meal Jesus had with his disciples before
his death) Jesus shared bread and wine with them all and said this
should be done regularly to remember him (Luke 22:17-20). So the
Holy Eucharist is also a reminder of the Last Supper and the altar
is the Lord's Table, covered with a white cloth.
Baptism is the outward sign (sacrament)
by which people, usually as babies but sometimes as adults, become
members of the Christian Church. Since we are given our Christian
names during Baptism the service is sometimes also called a Christening.
At Baptism water is always used to show the washing away of evil (sin)
and the beginning of a fresh "clean" Christian life. The
priest also uses water to make the sign of the cross (the membership
badge of the Church) on the forehead. Baptism takes place at the font
(a basin holding water - the word "font" reminds us of fountain),
which is normally placed by the main door of the church because Baptism
marks entry into the Church.
The person being baptised (or the godparents on behalf of a baby)
makes the promises required of a member of the Church. Godparents
also promise to encourage a baby, when grown up, to confirm the promises
before a bishop at Confirmation.
Jesus told his disciples to baptise people (Matt 28:19);
The Bible is a collection of Holy Scriptures (scripture = writing)
written by people inspired by the Holy Spirit. They are the story
of God making himself known to all men and women through his people
Israel (in the Old Testament), and especially through his son Jesus
(in the New Testament). The story of the foundation of the Church
and its early history is told in the Acts of the Apostles. The Bible
also includes Psalms, poems and letters (epistles).
Different parts of the Bible were originally written down in different
languages (Hebrew and Greek), but eventually the western (Roman) Church
came to use a Latin translation. From the fourteenth century onwards
the Bible has gradually been translated into over 1250 languages and
is now the all-time best-selling book in the world. The whole Bible
was published in English in 1535 (Coverdale) and in Welsh in 1588
Nearly all Church in Wales services include readings from the Bible.
Ordained ministers are required to read parts of the Bible and to
study it every day. All Christians are encouraged to have a Bible
and read it regularly.
Bible has many references to light and darkness. Light is a sign of
good but darkness is associated with evil. People doing wrong often
choose to do so under the cover of darkness. Even though we have electric
lights, candles are used to remind us that Jesus is the light of the
world (John 8:12) by whom we can find our way on life's journey.
Candles on the altar remind us of God's presence in church. The candle-sticks
on the altar in St Michael's were refurbished in 2004
The cup used to contain the wine used in the service of Holy Eucharist
is a chalice. Often it is made from silver; the chalices used in St
Michael's have been donated to the church and have many memories of
faithful members of the church.
All Christians today belong to the world-wide Christian Church but
the Church is divided into many denominations. These may have different
practices and beliefs expressed in in various Creeds but all Christians
believe that Jesus was born as a human, died on the cross, was resurrected
and ascended into heaven. Some examples of denominations are: the
Anglican Communion, the Roman Catholic Church and the Nonconformist
or Free Churches (Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Uniformitarians,
United Reformed Church etc.) The Church in Wales belongs to the Anglican
means thanksgiving and this service of thanksgiving is at the heart
of the Christian life of worship. It is the one service Jesus gave
to his church and commanded us to use. (Luke 22:19)
The pattern of the service is very simple. It falls into two parts.
In the first, after preparing ourselves by asking God to forgive us
for the wrong things we have done, we hear again in readings from
the Bible about what God has done for us, culminating in the Gospel
reading, a story of Jesus. The readings are explained in a sermon
before everyone joins together to say in the Creed what they, as Christians,
The second part expresses our response to God, beginning with prayers
for the world and everyone in it. Then, after greeting one another
with a sign of peace, we bring our thank-offerings to the altar -
money, and especially bread and wine, as symbols of the gifts of the
earth worked by human hands. In the great Prayer of Thanksgiving the
bread and wine become the sacrament of the body and blood of Jesus.
We then offer ourselves to the love of God asking Him to accept us
and we receive the bread and wine of Holy Communion.
Then we go out from the service to live our daily life in God's love
and to His glory.
Faith essentially means belief; the Christian faith is therefore what
Christians believe and is set out in the Creeds. Faith can also mean
trusting in someone; Christians trust in Jesus Christ.
Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday; it is the day when the
death of Jesus on the cross is remembered (Mark 15:22-41). It is a
day when there are solemn services in churches to remind us of the
sad events of the first Good Friday. It is only 'good' because without
the crucifixion there would not have been a resurrection to show how
God overcame sin and even death itself. Hot cross buns are a reminder
of the story of the first Good Friday.
Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of God in the Holy Trinity.
The Holy Trinity is the three persons of God:
God the Father,
God the Son (Jesus Christ),
God the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Trinity is remembered on the festival of Trinity Sunday.
An incumbent, who may be either a Vicar or a Rector, is the priest
in charge of a parish. Since the formation of the Benefice of Cwmbran
in 1971 the Rector is the incumbent of all churches in the benefice.
The team vicar at St Michael's is a member of the ministry team.
Incumbent's Board in the church displays the names of the priests
that have been in charge of the church from all known records. The
earliest being Lewis Phillip dated 1590.
Jesus was born about two thousand years ago. His mother was Mary and
his father Joseph, and he was the eldest of a large family. He grew
up in the small town of Nazareth in Galilee, a part of Palestine then
ruled by the Romans. When he was about thirty years old he left his
home and became a wandering teacher, story-teller and healer. A number
of people became his followers, including twelve men whom he called
his disciples. His teaching and way of life annoyed some of the Jews
and they had him arrested, tried, flogged and crucified. His followers
claimed that he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. They
believed he was God's son and the Messiah or Christ.
Liturgy is the form of a Church service. The liturgy to be used in
Church of Wales services is set out in the Book of Common Prayer and
the Alternative Order of Service for the Holy Eucharist.
The Lord's Prayer is the form of prayer which Jesus suggested should
be used (Matt 6:9). It is nearly always used in Christian services
because it is the 'family' prayer of all Christians.
A marriage is when a man and a woman promise that they will be husband
and wife as long as they both live. This promise is important in law
and must be made in front of witnesses. Many people choose to get
married in a church in a marriage or wedding service. They then make
their promises or vows in the presence of God as well as witnesses
(the congregation). Their marriage is blessed by a priest because
marriage (Holy Matrimony) is one of the sacraments of the Church.
Jesus was a guest at a wedding at Cana in Galilee and he did his first
miracle there (John 2:1-12).
ordained after training but serving locally as a priest or deacon
without receiving any pay (stipend). These ministers usually have
another job or have retired from one.
Years ago music in churches was provided by bands of musicians playing
stringed and wind instruments. These have been largely replaced by
organs, a wind keyboard instrument played by a single person. In Under
the Greenwood Tree the famous writer Thomas Hardy tells the story
of how an organ replaced the band of musicians in one country church.
Organs vary in size and there are huge organs in large churches and
cathedrals; some very fine music has been written for organs by composers
such as J.S. Bach.
Prayer is a conversation between God and people. It may involve only
one person (private prayer) or many (public prayer - usually in a
church service) but it always includes God. There are three main types
of prayer: petition (asking for things), penitence (saying sorry)
and thanksgiving (saying thank you). Silent prayer is important because,
as prayer is a conversation, it is important to listen as well as
to speak. Jesus told us that we should pray regularly like he did
and he gave us the Lord's Prayer as a pattern for our own prayers
The church pulpit was created in oak in 1964 and is dedicated to the
Glory of God and in memory of Emma Edwards (1881 to 1952)
is the money which each Church in Wales parish is required to pay
every year towards the costs of running the Church, especially of
providing the pay (stipends) of the clergy.
the north side of the chancel arch the door to the rood-loft remains
although the loft itself has long since been removed.
rood screen in St Michael's Church depicts theCruxifixion of Our
Lord Jesus Christ with Mary, the Mother of our Lord, and John (the
Jesus loved, standing by. This is the traditional setting taken
from the Bible.
The recorded restorations or major
repairs to the fabric of the church were carried out in 1899, 1921,
1967 and 1988.
the restoration in 1921 the remains of an earlier building were
uncovered. It was suggested that these formed part of a Celtic Church.
The early church itself was probably built on the ste of a Celtic
cell or retreat.
is continual assessment of the maintenance requirements, ensuring
the physical condition of our beautiful church as
well as the spiritual aspect continues to survive.
A sermon is preached as part of a church service. It is the opportunity
for the preacher to teach the congregation about an aspect of Christianity.
A sermon is usually based on a passage of Holy Scripture and often
introduced by a text, a verse or two from the Bible. The preacher
then explains the passage to the congregation and shows why it is
important to Christian life today.
An idea taken from the Old Testament by which people paid one-tenth
of their wealth, at first in kind and later in money, to maintain
the church and to pay the priests. During the 1870s and 1880s this
became a very big argument in the debates about disestablishment.
Eventually tithes were abolished and the Church in Wales became a
These are the robes worn by clergy, readers, servers and choirs during
services. They include cassocks, surplices, albs, stoles, scarfs,
hoods, chasubles, copes, amices and cloaks.
The basic article of clothing for clergy is a cassock, worn with or
without a belt. Over this, for choir services (morning and evening
prayer) they wear a white surplice and a black scarf. (A Reader's
scarf is blue.) Sometimes they also wear an academic hood.
For the Eucharist, too, they may choose to wear cassock and surplice,
but now with a stole instead of a scarf. It will be the colour of
the season of the year.
But the more usual practice for the Eucharist is to wear an alb (the
word means "white") with an amice (a white square of cloth)
round the neck and a white girdle round the waist. They will still
wear a stole and may also wear a chasuble. This is a piece of material
with a hole in the middle through which to put the head. It is often
a very beautiful vestment. Clergy may also wear a cope (a colourful
cloak) on special occasions, and they usually have a black cloak to
wear outdoors in bad weather.
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