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  • Post-Christmas Post

    Boxing Day - the first day of my post-Christmas 'down time'.  Catching up on the last few emails, posting a few things on social media and something here, then it will be time to switch off the laptop and enjoy some time simply to be.

    One lovely task this morning was sending a quick email thanking some of our Gatherers for all they had done in the Advent and Christmas season (OK technically it's still Christmas until either 6th Jan or 2nd Feb but you know what I mean).  As I did so, I was struck that, without consciously setting out to do so, we had pretty much covered all the clauses in the parable of the Sheep and Goats (Matt 25) that lies at the heart of my understanding of ministry.

    I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink

    Christmas lunch served to over fifty people including homeless men, lonely widows, people with metal health and addiction concerns.  Full bellies and warm hearts... a lovely way to spend the day.

    I was a stranger and you welcomed me

    We had so many visitors over the season, and yesterday morning a family from Somerset, the biannual visit from a family in London, returning friends from Orkney, who swelled our numbers and brought joy and a bigger perspective to our worship.

    I was naked and you gave me clothing

    We have supported assorted charitable appeals, locally, nationally and globally.  Clothes formed part of our giving to the Salvation Army appeal; many gave clothes to appeals for refugees; we contributed in lieu of Christmas Cards and via our Advent reflection collection to the Christain Aid appeal

    I was sick and you took care of me

    Our congregation includes a number of medical professionals, and also people who care for family members.  As well as that we chose to give the retiring collection from our carol service to a local cancer charity which will, we know, use some of it to bring precious moments to very sick people

    I was in prison and you visited me

    One of our folk is a prison visitor, and I'm sure was very active in recent weeks.  But prisons are not always physical detention centres, even one's home can become a prison when age, infirmity or illness take their toll.  Care homes and private homes were visited, communion shared, carols sung, gifts given

    No, we are not a special church, and no we don't do any of this that we may boast, and no I'm not sharing this out of smugness.  It was only as I began to reflect on all we had participated in that I realised we had unconsciously done it right!  Not perfect, not without the odd grumble or stumble, but we had done really well.

    And the profound mystery is that in every penny donated to charity, in every plate of food served or glass of cola poured, in every hug exchanged, in every gift given, in every threshold crossed, we met Jesus in those we served.  And here, too, is another profound mystery, that we, too, were to them the face of Christ!

    It has been a very busy time - and I am ready to chillax with no internet, no phones, no contact with church for a little over a week.  It has also been a blessed time, in which I have, despite myself, been reminded of what it's all about and why I can do nothing else!

    May God bless all readers of this blog with love, laughter, hope and wholeness, now and in the as uncharted terrritory that is 2016.

    Catriona x

  • Cloth for the Cradle

    With visitors from Somerset, London and Orkney, we had a lovely intimate morning service for about 30 folk.  Sat around tables with cups of tea/coffee and nibbles, we sang familiar carols, heard familiar readings, reflected on the wonder of it all and shared in a creative act of intercessory prayer - writing or drawing our petitions on strips of cloth which were used to line the manger (over the hay) ready for the baby.

    Then, when we had cleared up, several us headed over the road to help deliver Christmas lunch to to around fifty folk, some homeless, some with mental health issues, some lonely or isolated, some with addictions, some who simply wanted to share in this community event.  Lots more carols, people dining on vast amounts of festive food, it was fabulous fun.

    And now, after a very full and fulfilling day, I think it's time to get the jammies on and chillax!!

  • Happy Christmas!

    This is advance posted on the basis that Christmas Day will be way too busy!

    After a busy Advent at the end of a pretty busy year, it is good to pause, if only for a few moments and remember what it is that motivates us.  The Christmas story, in its Biblical minimalism, or with all its embellishments, draws us to the miracle of new life, the potential that lies untapped and undamaged in each newborn child.  It is a story of hope and a story of love.  It is simultaneously an outrageous story and a tender tale.

    In the jaded, world-weariness that threatens to overwhelm us, it is good, if only in our imagination, to glimpse the miracle reborn in each child, and, for those of us have the audacity to believe in an incarnate God to wonder afresh what a ridiculously stupid, wonderful, powerful, vulnerable, redemptive, transformative act that was, and is, and always will be.

    Wishing all my readers a very Happy Christmas, and a New Year characterised by peace, hope and love.