messy

messy

The next meeting of Messy Church is on Saturday 18th November at the church hall


Messy Church is an All Ages Family Church. We have about an hour of activities and crafts, a short celebration together and a shared meal. All are welcome.

We need people each month to help out with refreshments, cooking / serving the meal, baking cakes, planning / running a craft or activity, setting up and washing / clearing up, first aid. If you would like to help, please get in touch with Anna Woodhams – by email or on 07932 031206.

We launched our first Messy Church in 2012. Please take a look at each of our events so far - you can find more details and additional photos on our blog (opens in new window).

15 Jul 2017
Party Time 20 May 2017 The Fiery Furnace
15 Apr 2017 Easter-the greatest story! 18 Mar 2017 "The Lost Son" and the celebration
18 Feb 2017
The Good Shepherd 21 Jan 2017 Listening to God
17 Dec 2016
Christmas Messey Church 19 Nov 2016
Remembering
15 Oct 2016 Harvest 17 Sept 2016 Everyone is valuable!
16 Jul 2016 Taking care of God's world 18 Jun 2016 Messy Church at the Carnival
21 May 2016
The Holy Spirit 16 April 2016 Messy church at St Mary's Church
19 Mar 2016
Easter 20 Feb 2016 Creation!
16 Jan 2016
We are made in God’s image 19 Dec 2015 Christmas!
21 Nov 2015 Scared? Jesus bring peace 17 Oct 2015 Harvest
19 Sep 2015 Refugees 18 Jul 2015 By Lake Galilee!
20 Jun 2015 At the Hanwell Carnival 16 May 2015 Happy Birthday Messy Church!
18 Apr 2015 Go! Go! Go! Tell the world 21 Mar 2015
Easter Celebration!
17 Jan 2015 Noah’s Ark 20 Dec 2014 Messy Christmas
15 Nov 2014 Our bodies are special to God 18 Oct 2014 Harvest and feedingof the 5000
14 Sep 2014 The parable of the man who wanted bigger barns 21 Jun 2014 Noah's Ark
May 2014 Loving our neighbour Easter 2014 Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
15 Mar 2014 Temptations of Jesus in the Wilderness 15 feb 2014 Jesus' story of the Lost Son
14 Jan 2014 Communication and Prayer 21 Dec 2013 Christmas
21 Nov 2013 Things that scare us 21 Sep 2013 The Baptism of Amy and Lucy
20 Jul 2013 The Parable of the Two House Builders 15 Jun 2013 Carnival
18 May 2013 Pentecost 20 Apr 2013 Love Your World
16 Mar 2013 Easter 23 Feb 2013 Family love
19 Jan 2013 Baptism 15 Dec 2012 Christmas
17 Nov 2012 I am the Light for the World 20 Oct 2012 Harvest

15.07.2017 Party Time!

Our theme was taken from John’s gospel – when the disciples went fishing and caught nothing. Jesus (in one of His appearances after the resurrection) told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat – and they had a great catch of fish!. Then He cooked a meal for them. It’s about how God provides for us, that we can’t do things in our won strength - but only in His, and that Jesus is our friend.

There were water games, a sandpit, an ice cream parlour, and crafts - including making bracelets & sunglasses . We had a picnic outside.

Our new Rector, Andrew, provided the music for our worship.

A great way to end the Messy Church term

20.05.2017 The Fiery Furnace

We had lots of fiery fun with crafts and messy paint activities. In our celebration we acted out the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who refused to bow down to a Babylonian idol and were thrown into a fiery furnace. Of course their faithfulness to the one true God was rewarded and the were not even singed! And who was that fourth person that the Babylonian king saw in the flames? Was that person the angel of the Lord?We thought how God is always with us even when bad things happen and asked God to help us to choose what is right and not be afraid.

15.04.2017 Easter-the greatest story!

Around an Easter garden the Easter story was told:

Jesus at The Last Supper with his friends
Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
His arrest, his carrying of the cross, and crucifixion
His rising from the dead and appearing the Mary Magdalene

We prayed each step of the way and sang 'This is the Day that the Lord has made'

We made crosses, Easter baskets & crafts and a flower collage for the garden.

The Easter egg rolling game & the treasure hunt were great fun.

And as ever we shared a meal , thanks to our team in the kitchen.

Hallelujah – Christ is risen!

18.03.2017 "The Lost Son" and the celebration

What a lovely time we shared celebrating 50 Messy Churches since our first one on October 2012!

In our worship we acted out the story of the “Lost Son” who squandered his inheritance on wild living, ended up feeding pigs, cold starving and dirty, before he returned to his father to ask if he could be a hired worker as he had given up his right to son-ship.

Our congregation had to make money first (card and foil!) to spend on riotous “funfair” fun (where somehow they had a great time but never won a prize!) and also to spend on making delicious fruit kebabs, iced biscuits and fruit cocktails (money spent and indulgent food eaten and that’s that!). We allowed everyone to make as many coins as they wanted but “take care you have time to enjoy the goodies on offer!”

Free activities involved the mess of stirring pigswill (a really messy concoction they could make themselves.), making piggy masks and snouts and streamers for the celebration.

The father, of course, runs towards the son as he returns, delighted that the son who was lost is found, sending for the best robe and ordering a feast! That’s just what God is like with those who have done wrong and turn to him in sorrow. For us the celebration began with a cake with 50 candle, streamers and party poppers, as well as prayers of thanks to God for all that we love about Messy Church. Then we had a real feast as usual, eating delicious food together.

18.02.2017 The Good Shepherd

Today we learned about Jesus as the Good Shepherd ( as we can read about in John’s Gospel, chapter 10)

There were some sheep-related activities ;

  • Making sheep headbands
  • Weaving with wool
  • Pin the tail on the sheep
  • A blindfold 'wool trail' over and around some obstacles
  • Sheep prayer cards


During our worship time the children acted out being sheep, safe in the sheepfold.

  • First came the ‘ hired hand’, who is supposed to look after the sheep but runs away and leaves them at the first sign of trouble : Jesus would never do that – He would never abandon us
  • Then comes the ‘ false shepherd’, the thief, who pretends to be caring for the sheep but who seeks to lead the sheep astray : Jesus would never do that – He would never trick us or lead us astray
  • Finally we met the Good Shepherd – Jesus – who knows all of us (his sheep) by name, loves us, and laid down His life for us
  • We sang “ Jesus love is very wonderful’ and had a time of prayer


We finished as usual with the Messy Church Grace and then enjoyed a shared meal.

21.01.2017 Listening to God

Our activities and games this week were all about listening, because the bible story we looked at for our celebration was about God speaking to a little boy. Hannah went to the temple to pray to have a child because she was barren. She prayed to God so passionately that Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk. When she had explained her plight Eli prayed that her prayer would be answered. It was! She offered her little boy Samuel to God to help Eli in the temple. In the night God called Samuel several times, but Samuel thought it was Eli calling until at last Eli understood and told Samuel, “ If you are called again, answer “Speak Lord for your servant is listening”. Samuel obeyed and it was the beginning of his great work as God’s prophet.

After some special listening games involving adults and children, we acted out the story (with the children calling Samuel through megaphones!) in a temple built with cardboard boxes. We listened to a lovely Taize chant “O Lord hear my prayer” and the children were silent! Our prayers involved careful listening too. We realized that often we are too busy, too noisy, too keen on phones and TV to spend good time listening to what God may be trying to say to us. God speaks to us today, through other people, the bible, our prayers, maybe dreams. We need to have times of quiet when we open our ears.

17.12.2016 Christmas

As well as doing typical Christmas crafts to help to tell the Nativity Story, we made Christingles. These are symbolic of God’s Salvation plan. An orange is the world God has created for us; the cocktail sticks are the four seasons; the sweets on the sticks are the fruits of the earth, God’s provision; the red tape round the orange is Jesus’ blood shed for us so that we can be forgiven, free from wrongdoing; the candle is Jesus, the Light of the World- as light no darkness can ever put out.

After everyone had helped tell the Christmas Story we lit all the Christingles and sang a carol. A lovely celebration of the true meaning of Christmas.

19.11.2016 Remembering

Last week lots of people were wearing poppies to remember the fallen but - What does God choose to remember and what does He choose to forget?

WHAT DOES GOD REMEMBER?

  1. Rainbow; In the book of Genesis we read that after the flood God remembered Noah. In the same way He remembers each one of us by name even if we think we are forgotten. The rainbow is sign that God will never forget his people and will remember his covenant with them
  2. Bottle of tears. After he was defeated in battle King David wrote in Psalm 56 v 8 – ‘you have stored my tears in a bottle and counted each one of them’ . God knows and remembers everything that’s happened to us – even when we are sad or worried. So we know that if we are in trouble God will come close to us and rescue us.
  3. The Book of Life. In Malachi 3.16 we read about ‘all those who truly respected the Lord and honoured his name... God saw what was happening and wrote their names as a reminder in his book (i.e. the ‘Book of Life’). He knows and remembers all our prayers hopes and longings and all the work we do in His name.

WHAT DOES GOD FORGET?

  1. God doesn’t actually forget anything but He chooses not to remember some things i.e. when we mess up and get things wrong – if we are sorry then he will forgive us. And we read in Jeremiah 31.34; ‘I will forget the bad things they have done’. He does this through ;
  2. The Cross. God sent his only son Jesus to earth to save us all. By dying (an innocent man) on the cross - this can put right all the wrong things in the world and forgive our sins, to give us a new start.

What we did

  • Had lots of fun with memory games
  • Made crosses and poppies
  • Painted rainbows
  • Wrote (privately) our worries and put them in bottles for God to see
  • Made our own ‘ Book of Life’ in which everyone was encouraged to draw round their hand and write their name, to remind us that God knows all of us, and holds us in the palm of His hand.
  • Shared bread, to remember all that Jesus has done for us
  • Enjoyed fellowship throughout the afternoon and at our shared meal


15.10.2016 Harvest!

Our congregation of 85 enjoyed a wonderful Harvest Celebration. Each family brought dried foods which were packed in decorated boxes for the Women’s Refuge we support. Crafts, activities and games were all harvest themed and we used the collaged fruits with bible verses on them and the prayer tree in our worship.

We told Jesus’ Parable of the Sower, with all the children taking part in setting the scene and sowing the seed in the “field” in front of them. After the calamity of the bird- eaten seed on the dry path, the sun-scorches plant in the rocky soil and the weedy soil where the plants were choked by thorns (holly!) we saw the fertile soil full of the finest fruit and vegetables. We prayed that our hearts would be good soil for the word of Jesus and Camille (the link person with the Refuge from St Mary’s) told us about the work at the Refuge and received the Harvest boxes on their behalf- these gifts show the fruit of our love of Jesus at Messy Church.

17.09.2016 Everyone is valuable!

We used the message from St Paul about the Body of Christ in 1 Corinthians12:12-27. Messy Church is one body(unity) with many parts(diversity). In the craft and activity session we played games which involved co-operation in pairs or groups, emphasising the need to work together for the good of everyone. We also concentrated on making and decorating huge body parts for making a giant body as an illustration in our worship time.

This is the time of the Paralympics so in our worship as we put together our giant body we discussed how we would get on if parts of our body didn’t function, as well as what special gifts each one of us bring to this “body of Christ” Messy church.

21.05.2016 The Holy Spirit

Today we celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Our craft activities and games were on the theme of fire and wind and speaking in different languages. We had prayers written in the languages known by our congregation including French, Spanish, Swahili, Ukrainian, Russian and Polish. We joined in a worship song accompanied by signing, and another accompanied by fire coloured streamers and shakers.

16.04.2016 Messy Church at St Mary's Church

As a one-off we brought Messy Church to St Mary’s Church which is the church by the Bunny Park. Over 50 families had a very exciting time following a trail all over the church doing activities on the way with a booklet full of information, places for stickers which were collected, spaces to stick things in and letters to collect for an anagram.

The families visited the bell ringing chamber (shown around by real bell ringers), the crypt (a tunnel underground with vaults), a room to make music for our worship, a room to make a special packed tea to eat later, a place to do rubbings, the font (used for baptisms), the pulpit (a chance to use a microphone), the altar (a chance to write of draw a prayer and attach it to a giant cross), another altar to light a candle, looking at the stained glass windows and colouring one for themselves to stick in their booklet, the vestry (where clergy robes are put on) and the balconies (with things to spot for booklet questions). Even the crèche space which is called the Ark was used for little ones.

The adults enjoyed this visit as much as the children and joined in heartily when we sang our action worship song. Eating a picnic from a special bag in the church pews was another new experience. A Messy church full of Godly moments!

19.03.2016 Easter

Over 50 families came to our Easter Messy church and there was a wonderful “resurrection” buzz in both halls. Most of the activities were based on the Easter story in preparation for the Celebration, when the story would unfold. We constructed 5 scenes: the Last Supper (with decorated biscuits to share), the Garden of Gethsemane (with dark trees and plants), the trail scene (with buildings and crowds), the crucifixion (with wooden crosses) and the resurrection garden (with tomb, angels and flowers.) As the story was told the children added their crafts to make up the scene and we used large cut-out figures of Jesus and the other characters.

Many families are coming to Messy Church regularly and we feel the growing sense of fellowship as we get to know one another.

20.02.2016 Creation

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We had activities in six zones on the themes of Creation:- Zone 1 light and dark with drawing in a dark tent then again by torch light, and building with lego and bricks blindfolded then without the blindfolds. Zone 2 Sky and birds (poetic licence here!) with a washing line sky full of origami birds and cotton wool sky. Zone 3 Earth and plants with broad bean planting in a see-through cup and a prayer tree with written or drawn prayers on leaves. Zone 4 Sun, moon and stars, an activity zone with a solar system throwing game and a quiz. Zone 5 water and sea creatures with a collage aquarium, playdough sea creatures and an opportunity to photograph rippling and pouring water. Zone 6 Animals and humans with human art where we lay on a large sheet of paper and someone drew round us, an animal word-search and an animal play table.

On the 7th day God rested and in our worship parents surrounded the children with lit candles and we talked about the wonders of our God-created world. We had a moment of stillness, sang a song and prayed some of the prayers on the prayer tree. We decided that on the 8th day God invited everyone to Messy Church Tea!

16.01.2016 We are made in God’s image

During our activities we invited the children to dress up, to look swanky and smart, with an up-to-date image. They could put on make-up, have their hair gelled and styled, use face paints, wear hats, make masks then have their photos taken while they posed. They could also take photos themselves of various images, learning how to use a camera under different circumstances. There was a zone where they could try painting their own self portrait, and there was clay to make images as well as a celebrity wealth ranking quiz and a large game about competitive wealth.

Then the spot-lit catwalk to show off their costumes to much applause and cheering. We all had a great time. Then along came two people quite different, dressed as disabled and blind. Silence fell. These two are also made in God’s image and he loves them, in fact Jesus has a special place in his heart for the ones on the edge of society, who are not swanky and wealthy. There were over one hundred of us at Messy Church today and we were buzzing with the message.

19.12.2015 Christmas

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Over 100 of us had a great time with Christmas crafts, games and quizzes. This year we made “Christingles” -those oranges (the world) with a red band (the blood of our saviour Jesus) four cocktail sticks (the seasons) filled with sweeties and raisins (the fruits of the earth) and topped with a candle (Jesus is the light of the world).

Our worship entailed the telling of the Christmas story with children as Mary, Joseph, angel and donkey who go on the journey to Bethlehem with all the Messy Church families, eventually arriving at the stable in time for the birth of Jesus. The kids danced around the manger as angels, ran as shepherds and did a stately progress as the wise men all accompanied by the adults who each had an instrument. We had a wondrous time when the lights were dimmed, the Christingles lit and we sang and prayed in praise of Jesus.

21.11.2015 Scared? Jesus bring peace

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Last weekend there were brutal terrorist attacks in Paris causing many deaths, especially among young people. There is evil abroad and fear that we have no control over it. We know that Jesus lived, died and rose again for love of us, so that we might have freedom from evil, peace and hope.

So our theme for Messy Church was:- yes, we can be scared, but Jesus does bring peace, love and hope. Our scary activities involved spiders webs, snakes, messy ,feely things in the dark, a blindfold string trail, painting by torchlight, a dark tent with scary shapes to explore by torchlight as well as candle holders reflecting Jesus the Light of the world. The children travelled in a scary dark tunnel by the light of glow torches and eventually came to safety in a boat (cardboard with thanks to Paulk Golf from Hanwell Broadway!) decorated with fairy lights. Just when they thought they were safe there was a great storm (lots of sound effects) and Jesus was asleep in the boat! We all shouted “Wake up, Jesus! We might drown!” He woke up and there was stillness. All the adult surrounded the boat with candles and we prayed and sang, worshipping the God who stills the storm of our lives. We felt the Spirit of God moving in Messy Church!

17.10.2015 Harvest

Today we were busy with lots of craftwork, games and bulb planting to do with harvest and Mark led the worship celebration about Jesus’ story of having faith the size of a mustard seed growing into great acts for God.

19.09.2015 Refugees

Everyone is concerned with the plight of refugees and so are we! We made boxes filled with goodies to comfort children in Reception Centres.

All our families acted out a refugee journey from their unsafe homes to find safety in another land. Along the way they met people who helped them. They carried their few possessions, through dark tunnels; to a tiny village where they were given ponchos to wear to keep them dry; to a Red Cross post where there was only a little food left as so many refugees had passed through. When asked, the children suggested the food was shared. They had their ID cards stamped at the border and had a wobbly train journey to a new place of safety.

Here they made a place of worship out of scraps and the adults “held” the cardboard church in a circle with the children snuggly wrapped in blankets inside. There they sang about Jesus being there when we need a neighbour to help us and said prayers of thanks. The simple worship was very moving for all of us.

18.07.2015 By Lake Galilee!

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We had a lovely sunny afternoon and all our activities were outside in the cleared carpark. We had Lake Galilee (three paddling pools for fishing, sailing boats and playing- we had emailed our friends so they came prepared with bathing gear), an ice cream parlour with constant supplies of free ice cream (it’s the beginning of the holidays after all), a puppet theatre with puppets making, a very messy painting area (ideal for outside) where the children could scoot a painty path or leave painty footprints or throw paint at a wall!

Our celebration time included a puppet show with the stories of Jesus calling his first disciples by Lake Galilee (they were fishermen and left their nets to follow Jesus) and the stilling of the storm (when a storm arose on the lake as Jesus was sailing across in a boat with his disciples. Jesus was asleep. His friends thought they would drown and woke him up. He calmed the wind and the waves and his friends were amazed and worshipped him.)

Our meal was a picnic which we ate together outside- just right for a summertime Messy Church.

20.06.2015 At the Hanwell Carnival

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We took Messy Church to Hanwell Carnival this month. We pitched up under our gazebos next to South Hanwell Baptist Church and worked in collaboration with them to provide a brilliant day full of free story telling, testimonials, music, face painting, friendship beading, colouring and collage and alfresco painting. Thank you to all our helpers who came on the day to help make it work. It's always so refreshing to be undertaking mission in the great outdoors and in the heart of our community.

16.05.2015 Happy Birthday Messy Church!

birthday

We began Messy Church two and a half years ago and today we celebrated 30 sessions of Messy Church. At the same time we celebrated the birthday of the Christian Church which began at Pentecost two thousand years ago with the coming of the Holy Spirit on Jesus’ followers.

So today we had lots of party activities and crafts with games too, incorporating elements from both our celebrations. These led to thanking God in our worship for all the blessings we’ve experienced in Messy Church and praising God for the gift of His Holy Spirit helping us to be on fire with love for Him and giving us all we need to serve Him well.

Then on to a party tea!

18.04.2015 Go! Go! Go! Tell the world

Our theme today was Jesus telling his followers to go and tell the world about his love for everyone. He promised to be with them always as they did this. So in our big hall we had activities that were all about Go! Go! Go!- spreading the good news. We had two catapults firing balls as far as possible, a bubble machine, balloons to fly in the sky, paper plane flying, a huge tube rolling game and two scootermania sessions ( our email to all our members asked them to bring their children’s scooters for this). The smaller hall had slightly quieter and less frenetic activities such as making traffic light biscuits, decorated flip-flops, painting using paint blowing, a feet collage and a paper message folding table.

For our celebration time, we divided into three groups and everyone went to each base to have a go at the activities and hear the story of Jesus telling his friends to tell others about him. One base was a fishing activity "I will get you to fish for people"; another was on a mountain top and journeying off with rucsacs and scarves; the third was a meal table where Jesus talked to the people as they shared some bread.

Everyone enjoyed pasta and cake afterwards!

21.03.2015 Easter Celebration!

We celebrated Easter with a wonderful programme of activities which our congregation of over 70 thoroughly enjoyed. Families made chocolate cornflake cakes, worked on a colourful model of an Easter garden, made a tomb from papier mache and tissue flowers in decorated pots for the garden. In the large hall we had a Jerusalem market with different zones- biscuit making, bulb planting, instrument making, and a carpenter’s corner where wooden crosses were made. An egg- rolling competition was going on in the middle of everything.

Much of this came together in our celebration time. We acted out the Easter story visiting the Last Supper (and sharing bread together), the Garden of Gethsemane, the Cross and the tomb. As we moved from place to place the children played their musical instruments (claves, which are sticks hit together.) in different rhythms. At last we came to the time of celebrating the resurrection, singing and praying- “Alleluia, Jesus is risen!”. Then tea time!

17.01.15 - Noah’s Ark


This week our theme was Noah’s Ark, so we had lots of animal related crafts and games including an “Endangered Animals” Quiz. One of our congregation brought along her friendly dog for the children to pet and we had a zone full of cuddly toy animals to be played with. In the large hall we had built a huge Ark from chairs and cardboard with a gangplank and a mast draped with flags and topped by a lamp.

We acted out the story of Noah in our worship time. The parents and adults boarded the Ark as Noah’s family friends and relations, then the children wearing animal masks and animal finger puppets processed around the Ark led by Mrs Noah while we sang “The animals went in two by two”. Once the animals boarded the rain came and the Ark was buffeted by wind and rain. Ravens and doves flew out to see if the water was drying up. The story finished with parents holding up a rainbow (the sign of God’s promise never to cause such a catastrophe again) and we sang “Who put the colours in the rainbow” and said prayers, our Messy Church Grace and gave thanks for our tea. Then everyone tumbled out of the Ark to eat together

20.12.14 - Messy Christmas

Our Christmas Messy Church drew over 100 people, all wanting a little touch of Jesus which makes this season so special. Our craft activities and games all involved the Christmas theme and some, angel’s halos, wise men’s crowns and shepherds purses, were used in the worship, whilst others were just for fun like the Great Camel Race and decorating biscuits to eat. Gift bundles were made to give to a friend or neighbour, reminding us of the gifts given to Jesus by the Wise Men. We decorated a huge Messy Church Christmas Card which we gave to the congregation at St Mary’s Church, to remind us of our link with other fellowships.

We acted out the Nativity story, all making the journey to Bethlehem and worshipping the baby king Jesus. The journey took place in darkness lit by glow torches. When we reached Bethlehem, the angel Gabriel met us and had a question for us all. He’d already asked this question of Mary and Joseph. “Will you let the Christ Jesus into your life? Do you choose to come and worship him.” The spot-lights above the manger scene came on and there were Mary, Joseph and the donkey with the baby in a crib, sitting on a heap of straw. We gathered round to sing and pray and some of our little ones were more than happy to sit in the straw with the holy family!

15.11.14 - Our bodies are special to God


Our theme came from a bible verse (Psalms 139, verse 14), “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.

All our activities and crafts were about our bodies. We started to make a Messy Church Banner decorating it with painty prints of hands and feet. We had a large “Keep Fit” Zone and a healthy eating zone with tasty things to try, a sensory zone where there were things to taste and feel whilst blindfolded, a height measurement zone and for the worship we made praise streamers, prayer beads and happy/sad masks.

In our celebration we praised God using our bodies with praise streamers as we danced, and used different body positions as well as the happy/sad masks in our prayers. We sang three action songs using different parts of our bodies and had fun all together with a parachute- then sausages and mash, fruit and cake for tea!

18.10.14 - Harvest and feeding of the 5000


What a lovely time we had! The theme was the feeding of the 5,000, so we had lots of activities and games to do with food, fish and harvest. We gathered food for boxes to give to friends, or neighbours and gathered our own tea in bags to eat as a picnic after the worship. The kids and their parents came to hear Jesus (in the worship time) with bandages and slings to be “healed”. We recognized that wounds are often inside as well as outside. It was moving as some of our teens (playing disciples ) went amongst the crowd giving everyone a blessing before distributing the bread.

Maybe not 5,000, but certainly 50 children and their parents gathered today to have fun, make relationships and share about Jesus and his kingdom. A very special Messy church

20.9.14 The parable of the man who wanted bigger barns


It was lovely to see so many Messy Church families returning after the summer holidays.  We are making a big effort to learn everyone’s names so all the adults wore name badges as well as the children.


Our story was the parable Jesus told about a rich farmer who has such a bumper crop that he built a huge barn to store it and gave up working to have a good time. He didn’t thank God for his wealth but greedily kept it for himself. It wasn’t much good when he died as he couldn’t take it with him! Jesus said we need to fill ourselves instead with the riches of a Godly life.


Our crafts and activities included shadow puppet animals, a barn dance space,  building large structures of marsh mallows and spaghetti (uncooked!!), a huge farm collage  and guessing how many things were in containers. Then we played a relay game where each team had to fill their suitcase with masses of toys- far too many so that the lids wouldn’t close. We don’t need so much stuff!


The adults made a barn shape in our worship and the children gave them food and drink that they had made and dressed them in fine clothes. Those greedy party goers didn’t even share their chocolate cake with the children. But three of our teenagers had a much smaller harvest and they said thanks to God for all the good things he’d given them and then shared iced gems with the children.

21.6.14 - Noah's Ark

We had a fab Messy Church at Hanwell Carnival for our June event, and hundreds of families passed through our tent from 12 noon till 6pm.It was a beautiful sunny day so families stayed around to picnic and enjoy the day. A special treat for us was that Lucy Bridges who, with her sister Amy was baptized by full immersion in the car-park at Messy church last September, was a Carnival Princess.

Our theme was Noah’s Ark and our tent was decorated with a large rainbow and rainbow coloured streamers and we entered through a gangplank type roped off area. Our Messy Church Banner fronted the tent and we gave away handouts with St Mary’s and Messy Church information inside.

Inside the tent we painted a large cardboard model of the Ark- such a wonderful sludgy mess with rollers and brushes and plenty of gloopy paint. We made doves with cut-out handprints for wings and tails and many different types of animal face masks. We told the story as the children worked and gave everyone a colourful story handout with a colouring picture on the back.

This wasn’t just about being Messy Church at the Carnival or selling Messy Church; it was about being in the midst of the community as believing, serving followers of Jesus- and what a joy it was!

May 2014 - Loving Our Neighbour

"Loving our neighbour" was our theme this month, inspired by the opening of the Hanwell Foodbank Cafe. Our congregation brought offerings of food for the foodbank and we made up gifts of small food items and toiletries to give out to clients. Our worship centred on the story Jesus told in Mattthew 25 about people who fed the hungry, gave a drink to thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, healed the sick or visited the prisoners. Whenever they did those things it was as if they were doing it to Jesus. Our crafts and games were all on these themes and in our worship we used adults as the suffering ones and the children ministered to them with things they had made. One of our grannies enjoyed her time in a cardboard prison receiving cards with loving messages about Jesus. The children loved bandaging the wounded and giving them injections! We sang” when I needed a neighbour were you there” and prayed for the suffering and our generous response to them. Then our own tea!


Easter 2014 - Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Messy Church met on Easter Saturday this year so our Easter Celebration was especially exciting and poignant. Our craft and activity time involved making chocolate nests, decorating a large cross with resurrection signs (coloured ribbon and greenery), making drums to accompany our Easter story procession, putting together an Easter garden, bulb panting, making crosses from sticks, a bulb/flower treasure hunt (with the message “God is love” to be found) and various games on the “egg” theme.

For our celebration we acted out the story of the Last Supper (sharing bread together), the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the road to the Cross, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. As the journey unfolded we drummed with special rhythms for each part of the story. Everyone was thoroughly engaged and joyfully drummed shouting “Alleluia” when Rex, our Jesus, emerged from the tent/tomb. We gathered around the Easter Garden, lit the Paschal Candle and said prayers of thanks to Jesus. One mum prayed “Thanks Jesus for Messy Church”. Our Messy church family love to come and learn more about Jesus whilst having a great time!

15.03.14 - Temptations of Jesus in the Wilderness

Our theme today was the Temptations of Jesus in the Wilderness and in the big hall we had lots of games which were tests of skill, daring or choices, including the most splendid and messy obstacle course which ran the whole length of the hall and into the vestibule. There were various craft activities in the small hall all related to the theme, including making an invitation to our Easter Messy Church on 19th April.


We acted out the story of the three temptations of Jesus in our worship time – keeping the score between his choice for God and his choice for the devilish powers of darkness and cheering mightily when Jesus’ choice for God won the day! All the children and adults had a stone which symbolised their prayer that they too would choose for God and holding their stone repeated the following prayer:-

Lord, we come to you, with our messy lives.
Lord, you come to us and share in our mess.
Lord, who on the cross was messed up for us,
Help us with your love, heal this messy world.

Then we all quietly put our stones to make the shape of the cross, as a symbol of our prayer.

15.02.14 - Jesus’ story of the Lost Son

Another wet Saturday in our wet winter but St Mary’s Church Hall was bustling with excited families. We were telling the Jesus’ story of the Lost Son and in the big hall we had three areas to help us when we acted out the story in our worship time.

The father’s house was a gazebo full of tables laden with goodies so the families could make fruit cocktails and decorated biscuits- a truly hospitable home. In the fenced off garden there were games to play with fruit and veg. In the story the son asks the father for his inheritance and goes to seek his fortune in the world.

The second gazebo was a party tent with balloons, special lighting, party music and loads of shredded paper for messy partying. It is here the son loses all his money in riotous living! Then he goes to look after pigs- a wonderful messy pigsty with gloopy mess to play in and paint with. The son realises his father’s servants have a better life and more food than he does, so he goes home full of sorrow, only to be greeted lovingly by his father, who orders a celebration. The one who was lost is found!

In our worship the lost one was acted out by all the children, and their parents were friends who accompanied them on the journey to discover how much the God the Father loves his children even if they make a great mess of their lives; and of course our celebration meal followed.


14.01.14 – Communication and Prayer

The theme for this messy Church was 'Communication', with each other and with God, and it certainly had an interesting and different flavour! David, our friend who is interested in history, brought along lots of artefacts from down the ages to do with communication, which fascinated everyone. He even provided an ancient reel to reel projector which showed a black and white news summary of the year 1936. So we had a cubby hole as a cinema and even had popcorn. There were messages to God pinned on the ceiling of a darkened tent to be searched for using torches and an opportunity to write blog messages for Messy Church using an overhead projector.

Of course we did the usual craft activities too:- making signalling flags, masks with various facial expressions, flicker books, cup phones and writing with invisible ink. Our worship was interactive and involved all ages in practising prayer by saying Thanks, Sorry and Please when we pray to God. We had a very lively Messy Church, yet with some quiet moving moments too when we were praying for our sick friends and relatives, and when the adults lit candles in a circle whilst a group sang “This little light of mine”. Tea time is always a great time to chat and catch up.

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21.12.13 – Christmas

We had a marvellous Christmas celebration at Messy church this month. It was a nasty, wet Saturday afternoon, but the rain didn’t put off our Messy church families. They poured in and soon there were about 140 of us in our halls. Soon everyone was making glittering stars, crowns for the wise men, angels' wings, jewelled Christmas story necklaces, paper chain prayers and baby Jesus to lie in a decorated box on a bed of straw. There was a lamp-lit tent for making music to accompany our Nativity story as well as some fun games. We had a large bale of straw to be used as the centre piece for the Nativity. Our older lads soon found it and were given permission to play – don’t we love “Messy” Church! Later we acted out the Nativity story and travelled to Bethlehem in and out of the halls meeting first a grumpy innkeeper then a kind one, finally arriving at the stable, the newly heaped straw, beautifully spot-lit, where Mary and Joseph and the donkey gathered by the manger. Children and parents gathered in a circle round the manger. Our music makers accompanied the arrival of the angels, shepherd and wise men. We prayed holding hands in a circle (adults and children) to remind us of our Messy Church community with Jesus in the middle. There was just enough festive food for everyone!

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21.11.13 – Things that scare us

Our theme for Messy Church this month was “Things that scare us”, so our crafts and activities were full of spooky fun. We made bats, spiders, snakes, glittery spider’s webs and a large night-time collage. Our big hall was in semi- darkness and there was fun to be had playing in a dark tent with torches, making silhouettes for shadow puppets, playing giant snakes and ladders with head torches and putting hands in boxes of scary yucky things! Chris led families on a scary dark walk, lit with glow candles and with adults helping children to walk on a plank trail and go through scary tunnels . The children ended up in a huge cardboard boat, thinking they were safe, but a terrific storm blew up with actions and sound effects. Jesus, asleep in the boat, was woken up and all became calm. As the adults surrounded the boat with candlelight we talked and prayed about how Jesus brings us peace when we are afraid. After all the excitement we all felt the calm presence of Jesus as we gathered in fellowship- then off for fish fingers and baked beans!

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21.9.13 – The Baptism of Amy and Lucy

To return after our summer break with the joyous occasion of having Amy and Lucy baptised was so exciting. We welcomed the girls and their family and friends to be part of our Messy Church family. Following our usual hour of watery-themed activities and crafts we came together to learn a little bit about Baptism and what it means to us as Christians. Card fish had been won during the Hoopla game, then decorated and made into necklaces, forming a key component of the mini workshops – the children rotated round, heard some teaching and collected a sticker for their fish necklace. The moment then arrived and we all went out into the car park to where a giant paddling pool had been filled with not-too-warm water! Helen read the adapted Messy Church liturgy and she and Christine immersed the girls fully into the water. It was a momentous occasion and one we will never forget. We presented candles to the girls and were invited to sign the cross on our own foreheads. Once dry, we had tea, prayers, candle lighting and cake and Amy and Lucy looked beautiful in their nice and dry baptism dresses.

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20.7.13 - The Parable of the Two House Builders

This month we told the story of the Wise Man and the Foolish Man building their houses on sand and rock. We got messy with a shredded paper storm and one team struggled to keep their flimsy tent up on the sand, while the other team kept their strong tent upright on the rocks. All our activities were fun, seaside, sand, rock related, such as our very popular sandpit in the car park, our coloured sand art collage and our “seaside in a box” sculptures. We built a home made crazy golf which “engolfed” the large hall, we played hoopla and tin can alley and ended up with a picnic beside our car park seaside.

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15.06.13 - Messy Church at Hanwell Carnival

It was wet, windy and yes it was MESSY when St Mary’s Messy Church went to the Hanwell Carnival in June. The Carnival passed by the front of St Mary’s Church Hall and anyone in the procession who normally goes to Messy Church had a big surprise on arrival at the Park – the Messy Church tent was open for business! The walls of Jericho (cardboard boxes to the uninitiated) were ready and just waiting to be painted.

There was craft work to be tackled, and then every hour the Story of Joshua was told to all those sheltering from the rain. At 5.30pm the walls were knocked down by an enthusiastic crowd We shared a pitch with the Hanwell Churches Together stand, where refreshments were conveniently served. Another highlight of the afternoon was the Magician, who entertained the children (and adults). A great time was had by all, and we all enjoyed the opportunity to show off Messy Church to the wider community.

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18.5.13 - Pentecost

We decorated candle holders and everyone got a candle to celebrate the Church’s Birthday at Pentecost. We wrote invisible messages that became clear when painted over. We had a sensory zone with wire buzzer games, sea shells to listen to the sea in, smelly stuff to test out our noses and crinkly and popping stuff to have fun with. We also made a real mess with the blow painting!

We then flew paper aeroplanes up to God. We danced in bubbles. We ran around with red and yellow streamers (symbolising fire) and made wind tunnels with fans. We let off untied balloons all at the same time (air and noise!) and then tied them and batted them about. All this sensory fun was brought together in the story of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit sitting around our artwork and candles.

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20.4.13 - Love Your World

The hall was alive with animals this month. We made masks, ears, antennae, wings and fins and paraded around our cube-world with instruments to celebrate everything that has breath. We also made a beautiful collage, wallowed in primordial slime and pinned fins on a shark and hats on a cat.

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16.03.13 - Easter

This Messy Church is likely to be remembered as “the drumming one”. Helen told the most poignant Easter story while 40+ children listened attentively and drummed beautifully on their MC-made drums. Fast, slow, loud, soft, Jo expertly directed the drummers to set the mood throughout the story. The parents waved palms and threw streamers to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem. The worship story ended around a beautiful Easter Garden which had been made during the activities, decorated with painted stones and paper flowers. We welcomed 104 congregation this month, one of our highest.

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23.02.13 - Family Love

It’s difficult to say who had more fun at this Messy Church – the adults? or the children? There was a lot of laughter in our hall that afternoon.

Our theme, Family Love covered a number of aspects. We focussed on the story of the Good Samaritan during our worship time but we also drew in elements of Valentine’s Day and Mothering Sunday. St. Mary’s had just finished helping at the Ealing Churches Winter Night Shelter so we also wanted to acknowledge the work that had taken place helping the homeless.

We built a homeless cardboard city out of boxes, and filled them with a tonne of shredded paper, a few sleeping bags and several rats. Everyone just piled in, throwing the paper everywhere, hiding in boxes, rolling around in the sleeping bags and in the paper. It was a real mess but so much fun.

We also started our friendship bunting, which will be sewn together, hung up in the hall every month from now on and will be available as an activity for as long as people want it. A symbol of our binding friendships within Messy Church.

We also made friendship jewellery and got everyone to decorate a special Messy Church keepsake (shoe) box. Carrying on the box theme of the day, everyone’s decorated box formed part of the worship – individual boxes (bricks) came together to form a wall spelling out “We All Love Messy Church St. Mary’s”, again symbolising that as individuals we come together at Church to make a whole.

We also made heart-shaped prayers for our keepsake boxes, put our hands in jelly-pasta-goo, acted out the story of the Good Samaritan and enjoyed a delicious pasta meal.

We are blessed that so many people came to share our fun-filled Messy Church.

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19.01.13 - Baptism

This month we explored baptism at Messy Church. We focused on water in all our activities. Our Celebration took us all on a journey through a watery landscape, encountering water-related obstacles and a shower. We ended the worship at an alter which contained water and a large cross which had been decorated as an activity in blue and silver.

As part of our water journey to the alter, we had made promises in the shape of rain drops, to hook on the promise tree. What can you promise for 2013? We also made named headbands to symbolise being named members of the Messy Church family.

Our messy and wet activities included using our hands to paint with jelly. We also enjoyed hook-a-duck, playing with an underwater world and baptising our dollies in the baby bath.

Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist to signal the beginning of his public ministry. This was a key public declaration demonstrating that he was the Son of God. In effect, he was beginning a new journey of faith and teaching.

We can draw similarities in our own lives  - we are at the start of a new year; we are all part of a team that is taking our new Church “Messy Church” forward into 2013 – a new journey and new teaching; and we are publicly declaring our own beliefs to our local Hanwell community. We are not just hiding in pews on a Sunday morning but we are out there talking about God in new ways.

The word baptism is derived from the Greek word for washing and the acts of pouring water three times on a forehead or via submersion symbolise being cleansed by the Holy Spirit – ready to take on our new journeys.

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15.12.12 - Christmas

We busied ourselves this week making costumes for our celebration – children could choose whether they wanted to be angels, kings or shepherds, and wrapping up important presents, with prayers attached, to give to baby Jesus. We also produced a stunning stable collage, which we used as a backdrop in our mock-up stable (complete with crib and straw) and giant sized collage stars which guided us into our celebration space. As a group (about 100 people), we acted a mini nativity, all journeying together with Mary and Joseph on their arduous trip to Bethlehem. Along the way, we came across Mary sweeping and witnessed her visit from the Angel Gabriel, a grumpy inn keeper who had no room at his inn, and lastly a kind inn keeper who led us into his stable, our celebration space. Helen led a delightful celebration with songs dedicated to our angels, kings and shepherds. After all that, everyone was ready for tea – pasta, party bits, fruit and cake and a lot of fun was had by all. Already we are blessed to see people coming back to Messy Church each time..

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17.11.12 - I am the Light for the World

Again, we were blessed to see so many people from our local Hanwell community enjoying our Light-inspired event. Activities included; Light Printing - – a giant sized floor painting for people to get stuck into with their hands – creating stars, planets, suns, moons, fireworks etc Messy Touch – a fun, interactive guessing game involving a series of sealed bags containing light-related objects. Sparky Art – a collage full of lights, glitter and shining objects – fireworks, candles, flames, torches Lanterns and Stained Glass Art Our celebration started with everyone gathering together and being given a glow stick. We dimmed the lights and proceeded on a journey through darkness, guided by our simple light sticks. The journey took us through a tunnel, over obstacles, through a swamp, via planks of wood guiding the way, following a string, which eventually lead everyone into our celebration space. Jesus is our light that guides us through darkness. Many people stayed for our shared meal, enabling us to chat and begin to form new friendships with our community.

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20.10.12 – Harvest

Our 75 members enjoyed a range of activities inspired by the Harvest theme, from painting grapes using foot prints, to a tin can alley, to vegetable modelling. We encouraged praising God in alternative ways - planting as a community in the raised beds outside the Church Hall, writing and drawing our prayers on grapes to make a vine, reflecting and creating a prayer tree with leaves, flowers and birds and planting daffodil bulbs which should be starting to flower in time for Mother's Day in March. Helen and Jo together led a lovely, and very lively, worship service which was greatly enjoyed by the children and adults alike. Many of the children were already familiar with the songs from Junior Church, but we were very blessed that we were able to reach so many families who were not familiar with our services, and who are now keen to come along and join us on Sundays. The catering team provided a wonderful meal of butternut squash soup which was greatly enjoyed by everyone present.

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