- Year 1 98.2%
- Year 2 95%
- Year 3 98.2%
- Year 4 97.3%
- Year 5 98.2%
- Year 6 96.5%
- Year 7 94.5%
400 years ago, Christmas mince pies were made of chopped meat, rather than fruit. The crust on top was formed from a piece of pastry in the shape of a baby. The mince pie was rectangular in shape, representing the Christ-Child in the Manger.
Nowadays mince pies are made with mixed fruit of currants, sultanas, and the peel of lemons and oranges. At Christmas- time, nuts and dates are often bought, along with some less-common fruits such as mandarins, clementines, nectarines and satsumas - all varieties of orange.
720,000 tons of oranges were destroyed in Europe in 1993. They were fit for human consumption, as were the apples - nearly a million tons of them - also destroyed that year by the European Union. Nearly three million tons of perfectly good fruit and vegetables were destroyed that year - mostly by being buried in the ground and allowed to rot.
This was done according to the agricultural policy of the European Union, paying farmers to destroy some of their crops rather than have “too much food” on the market, causing prices to drop. This policy cost British taxpayers £57 million in 1993.
God our loving Father,
spend money in our name
to subsidise farmers to “set aside”
good agricultural land
so that less food is produced.
Some potatoes and other good crops
are sprayed with dyes
to make them unfit
for human consumption,
and it is policy
to destroy good harvests of fruit and vegetables.
Yet our brothers and sisters
go hungry and die
across the world.
Lead us to grow
in valuing the dignity
of all people,
as well as in respect
for the fruit of the earth
and the work of human hands.
Inspire us to be of influence
in our own part of the world
so that injustices -wherever they exist-
may be challenged,
and all people learn to grow together
as caring and responsible
brothers and sisters.
An American writer told a short story about self-sacrifice at Christmas. Two young people, who were very much in love, wanted to give a present to each other but both were poor. Without telling each other, they decided what they would do.
The girl was proud of her long hair that flowed down her back. She approached a wig-maker who gave her money as long strands of her hair were cut off. Now she was able to buy her friend a present.
Meanwhile, her boyfriend sold his most precious possession - an old-fashioned watch of sentimental value, as it had been given to him by his grandfather. He, too, then bought a present.
That day, Christmas Eve, the two had arranged to meet, as usual - she with her remaining hair covered by a scarf and he a little late because he no longer had a watch. What were their presents? She had bought him a special watch-chain so that he could hang his watch from his coat pocket! He had bought her a set of expensive combs for her long, flowing hair!
They shed tears as they appreciated the sacrifice in love that each had made - and they laughed!
as we prepare to celebrate
the gift of yourself
to our world,
we think too of our loved ones,
remembering that you said
that there is “more joy in giving
than in receiving.”
We ask you to bless us and those we love.
'Schindler's List' is a film about a German-Czech businessman (Oskar Schindler) who managed to protect a group of over a thousand Jews who would otherwise have been killed in a concentration camp during the Second World War.
As the war ends, a gold ring is presented to Oskar Schindler. The ring is made from the gold fillings from the mouths of some of the survivors. It is engraved with these words:
“Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.”
Lord God of all people,
lead me not to judge others
and divide into different groups.
Inspire me to live in such a way that I am not destructive
Empower me with your Spirit
that I may choose wisely
and live positively
and so promote all that is life-giving.
Many Christmas customs were lost in
Britain when the feast of Christmas itself
was abolished by Oliver Cromwell
and the Puritans in the 17th Century.
They said that Christmas was only to be
a solemn time.
Many of the customs we have today were
introduced to Britain in the 19th Century.
For example, Prince Albert (the husband
of Queen Victoria) brought from his own
country of Germany the tradition of having
a decorated Christmas Tree.
The custom of the Christmas Tree - brought
to Britain by Prince Albert - soon spread
throughout the country. Prince Albert died
on this day in 1861, aged only 42.
One of the best-known Christmas Trees
stands in Trafalgar Square in London.
Each year a huge fir tree is shipped over
from Norway - a present from the Norwegian
people, in gratitude for Britain’s help during
the Second World War.
It is thought that 500 years ago, Martin Luther
(the German church reformer) was the first to
put candles on a Christmas tree.
He said that the lights would remind people
of the stars that shone above Bethlehem on
the night of the birth of Jesus.
God our Father,
at this time of year
we think of loved ones,
and remember with gratitude
what others have done for us.
As the stars shone over Bethlehem,
so may we shine in the world
like bright stars
as we share the Word of Life
- Jesus, your Son,
your Word amongst us
Yesterday, the 10th of December, marked
the anniversary in 1948 of the United
Nations adopting the “Universal Declaration
of Human Rights”. As we listen to
excerpts about some of those rights, we
can bear in mind people in different
parts of the world who do not share our
own experience of human rights being
Lord, it’s good
to be actively concerned
about the abuses of human rights
in other countries,
but I must not lose sight
of the mis-treatment of others
closer to me. Most particularly, Lord,
point out to me
my own failings
in lacking respect
for those who come into my daily life.
I readily condemn slavery,
but help me to liberate those I know
who are overburdened.
I condemn torture,
but lead me to discourage the use
of cruel words and actions
to those I will meet today.
that those who degrade others
are themselves diminished.
so that I do not
jump to conclusions about people,
or be judgmental.
always to respect individuals
for who they are,
realising that their experiences
may be different from my own,
as each follows paths in life
that are particular to them.
May I grow in appreciation
who think differently from me
can hold equally valid views.
In these and other ways, Lord,
may I grow in respect for all people.
This day, may others respect me
as much as I respect them.
The world’s worst industrial accident took place in the early hours of yesterday - the 3rd of December - in 1984, as poisonous gas escaped from a pesticide factory. The cloud of highly toxic methyl isocyanate moved through the streets, engulfing people as they slept, over an area of 40 square kilometres. 800,000 people were living in the city. Of those people, 300,000 were injured, and as many as 10,000 people were killed. Many of the survivors were blinded, or suffered liver and kidney failure. All had breathing difficulties. Doctors stated that most of those who survived will have long-term health problems.
This disaster took place in Bhopal, a city in central India.
We pray today, for the injured and sick who are still suffering from the after-effects of man-made or natural disasters.
We pray that those who have responsibilities may have a “feeling” for others and so grow in care and respect for those whose lives they may influence.
For ourselves and those that we care for, lead us to make our choices wisely, and accept responsibility for our own lives and for our choices and actions and their consequences.
The President of Egypt in the 1970s was Anwar Sadat. Egypt and other Arab countries had been at war with their neighbour, Israel, for many years.
With great courage (and risking hostility from people on both sides), President Sadat flew on a mission of peace from his capital city of Cairo, to Jerusalem.
It was the 18th of November, 1977.
All the countries involved in the on-going hostilities had suffered. Whilst in Israel, President Sadat spoke to the Israeli Parliament, quoting from the Jewish scriptures and from the Islamic Koran, stating that it is not possible to build happiness on the misery of others.
“I speak to you the bewailing mother,
you the widowed wife,
you the child who lost a brother or a father –
you, the victims of all wars.”
President Sadat’s initiative was courageous and generous. He wanted to consign the past to the past, and promote understanding and peace. The name “Jerusalem” means “city of peace”, and it is a place that is holy to followers of Judaism and Islam (as well as to Christians).
Happy are those, Lord
who long in their hearts
to walk the roads
that lead to Jerusalem, the City of Peace.
Now that I stand in Jerusalem,
“Peace be upon everyone.”
I know that in your presence, Lord,
justice and peace
will come about.
On the night of 14th November 1940, the city of Coventry in the Midlands suf- fered the longest air-raid of any British city during the Second World War. High explosive bombs were dropped by the German Air Force (the Luftwaffe). On other parts of the city, fire bombs fell, gutting many buildings, including the beautiful medieval cathedral.
The following day, some of the debris was cleared from the ruins of the cathedral. With only its stone walls left standing (and the stained glass destroyed) Coventry simply had an ‘open-air’ cathedral. From the ruins were taken two charred wooden beams that had held up the roof. These were bound with wire and made into a large cross, and set up in a bin of sand near the ruined high altar.
16 years after the cathedral’s destruction, the first stone of a new cathedral was laid. It is linked to the old ruined church whose walls still stand.
Every day at midday a brief service of reconciliation is held. On Fridays, the service is held at the high altar of the ruined cathedral. The cross of charred beams re- mains there, with the words “Father, forgive” inscribed on the altar.
If we think about “forgiveness”, we may remember that there is only one condition in the prayer of Jesus that we call the “Our Father”. The condition is that we are forgiven as we set out to forgive those who have hurt us.
In October 1997, some newspapers reported that an investment bank had given all its employees a day off to do charity work. From the secretaries to the chairman there were over 1,250 volunteers from the London office of Goldman Sachs. They said that they were determined to give something to local communities and at the same time, help to build up the company’s strong team spirit.
Some charity work involved being with young people. One group worked in an adventure playground, making as much noise as the children themselves. It was a new experience for some of the children, finding adults who were willing to spend quality time with them and play games with them. One bank employee later said that he was glad of the opportunity: “My work is quite intense, with long hours and lots of travelling. You lose focus on things like this. It’s good to get a proper balance on the real world.”
let us never be so tied up or occupied
only with our own concerns
that we lose focus on the real world.
Inspire us to live in such a way
that we live
balanced and unselfish lives,
having quality time for others
in which we are genuine
in our attention
and compassion and care,
knowing that we are all
brothers and sisters