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  • Mischief

    Two quick bits of mischief before I forget them again.

    Firstly, is anyone else tempted, one Sunday to persuade the entire congregation to sneak into the corridor/hall/crpyt/undercroft/school room/churchyard and hide, having left a note for the late comers saying "the rapture came, you missed it"?

    Secondly, if during Sunday worship the fire alarm went off (or in buildings without alarms a hint of fire was observed) would the right thing for the preacher to say be "turn or burn"?

    Have a Happy New Year when it comes... I'm way down south tomorrow without a laptop so no definitely posting for a while.

  • Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Goodnight!

    Been a very busy couple of days - and in terms of physical labour I've done a fraction of what others have done.

    Yesterday afternoon "the people kept a comin'" to our afternoon tea, story-telling, christingles and carols event... we had expected about 30 based on replies and it was more like forty in the end - even though a few who'd hoped to come didn't make it!  Thankfully it did not descend into total chaos, and a good, gentle, time was had by all.


    Today we met 'cafe style' with coffee pre-service and welcomed a number of visitors to join with those of us spending Christmas at home... folk from Eastern Europe, Asia, Australia, USA... and England!  Once more they kept arriving, and our slightly mad, heavily interactive service went well.  Then it was all hands on deck to serve Christmas dinner to around 40 guests, before finally returning home to flop.


    This time last year I was just stepping out of work for four months as I awaited and then had surgery.  I'd enjoyed the services and events, but a cloud of anxiety had lurked nearby.  This year I have enjoyed them whole-heartedly, and last year feels, just now anyway, a vague memory.

    One little funny thing - my Christmas gifts incliude two pairs of gloves, a scarf, two woolly jumpers and a microwave hot water bottle type thing... given I am currently drenched by a 'tropical moment' I don't think they'll be getting much use any time soon!

    I am now 'off' for about 10 days - a couple of Bank Holidays and then a week of leave.  Blogging light - and hopefully plenty of resting.

    Merry Christmas everyone... back in the New Year!

  • Christmas Day

    A nice little circularity here - the Northumbria Community readings repeat the Isaiah verses with which I began my Advent reflections, and couple them with two other bits:

    Psalm 139:12

    Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

    Isaiah 45:3,7

    I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name...  I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things

    1 Corinthians 4:5

    Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of human hearts. At that time each will receive praise from God

    The darkness passes, light returns... we celebrate again the word made flesh.

    I cannot know how life is for the majority of people generous enough to read this blog, indeed there are many whose names I will never know.  I don't want to say twee or naff things about this day, because some of you will be struggling to come to terms with tragedy, some of you will be stressed, some of you will be angry, some of you will be bewildered...  But on this day we dare to hope again that peace will pervade the earth, that joy will prove unstoppable and that love will transform even the hardest of hearts.

    May God bless each and every one of you this day, and grant you, and those you love, a hope-filled, peaceful, joyful and loving 2012.


  • Christmas Eve

    Advance posted... a busy but fun day in prospect... afternoon tea with carols and christingles, watchnight at midnight... such an improvement on last year when I sat at home being obedient!

    The last of my Advent reflections then.

    Psalm 140: 1-3

    Job 37: 5 - 13

    John 17:15

    It is the line from the High Priestly prayer that speaks I think...

    My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

    Sometimes Christains get a bit too heaven obsessed, wanting out of the world, but Jesus wants us in it.  Phrases like 'we are the Body of Christ' trip easily from our tongues but verses such as this one hint at what that means.  We speak of being salt and light, of transforming the world around us.  This little verse, spoken by Jesus on the night of his arrest reminds us that love is incarnated not only by supernatural mystery but also by super, natural Christians, getting on with loving God, their neighbours and themselves.

    Tomorrow we will once again celebrate that 'love came down at Christmas' but for now we pause for a moment, to recall the part we play in God's plans.

    Not out of the world, but in it

    Not avoiding suffering but sharing it

    Not shunning the darkness but illuminating it

    Not discarding the tasteless but savouring it

    Not abandoning the perishing bur preserving it

    Do we speak of Christ

    Or of ourselves?

    Light of the World

    Love come among us

    Calling us

    To love one another

    To light up the world

    On this Christmas Eve

    We ask not to be spared the reality of life

    But live life in all its fulness


  • For laughs...

    There are lots of variations on the theme of recission varsions of The Twelve Days of Christmas but this one posted by Angela is fun...

    Effective immediately: the following economizing measures are being implemented by the 'Twelve Days of Christmas' subsidiary

    1. The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree, which never produced the cash crop forecasted, will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance
    2. Two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are, therefore, eliminated
    3. The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French
    4. The four calling birds will be replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked
    5. The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals appears to be in order
    6. The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day was an example of the general decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by Human Resources will assure management that, from now on, every goose it gets will be a good one
    7. The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. The function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes, thereby enhancing their outplacement
    8. As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring or a-mulching
    9. Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps
    10. Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords, plus the expense of international air travel, prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work congressmen. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant as we expect an oversupply of unemployed congressmen this year
    11. Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music, and no uniforms, will produce savings which will drop right to the bottom line

    Overall we can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and related expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved.