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  • Not the happy ending in NZ

    The news tells us that a second explosion at the New Zealand coal mine means there is now no hope of survivors... and the media circus will soon leave town because now there's no hope of a happy ending it ceases to be interesting.  But for 29 families the horror continues... now waiting not for the possibility of a loved one's return but for the recovery of a loved one's body.  Don't know what to say really, just seems wrong to let it slip by unremarked. 

    Eternal rest grant unto them, oh Lord, may they rest in peace.

  • A Poem

    This morning I've been starting to look for poems and readings that might find their way into some of our Christmas services to augment (if such a word is allowed) the Biblical narrative we know so well.  Due to past incompetence, I have two copies of little red book called The Big Book of Christmas which has lots of poems and other things in it.  Flicking through I came across this one which I rather liked...



    I wrapped a toilet roll with paper

    And drew a king on it

    Complete with crown and a gift for the child.


    Then I made another,

    With a turban because he was from the east

    Which I knew was romantic and far away

    Without any clear idea where.


    And yet another, Mrs Harman said there were three,

    With gifts of Gold, Frankenstein and Mire,

    Or so I thought.


    Then shepherds, more toilet rolls,

    And cotton wool for sheep.


    An angel was a toilet roll with wings,

    Joseph was another toilet roll with a pipe-cleaner staff,

    And Mary a toilet roll with a scrap of blue cloth.


    The child was a blob of Plasticine

    Safe in a tiny cardboard match-box manger

    Filled with straw.


    I took it home and Mum put it n the mantelpiece

    But she hid the child.

    And on Christmas morning,

    4 a.m. on Christmas morning, with a cup of tea in her hand

    And a bleary leave me alone I'm still aleep look in her eye,

    She set me and my brother searching for the child.


    Cold, cold, cold, warmer, cold, cold until hot

    And we found him safely wrapped in a tissue

    Inside the cupboard under the stairs.

    Gently we laid him in place before his mother

    A scribbled, toilet roll Virgin and that was the best Christmas.


    Eric Petrie The Big Book of Christmas pub MacMillan, 2005 page 9


  • Advent Pausing Places

    A couple of online place you may wish to drop off during Advent.

    Firstly one from BUGB/Northumbria Community which you can find here a weekly (or thereabouts) offering professionally produced.  Easy listening audio with a thoughtful edge.

    Then there is a more collaborative blog option, the brainchild of Andy Goodliff with various people offering thoughts for most days of Advent.  Having run for a few years there is a sense that maybe some contributors are growing tired and opting out, but there are 'sign-ups' for most days at Hopeful Imagination (here) including rather a lot of December born Baptists!

    If you happen to be in our neck of the woods, next week we begin a series of four lunch time reflections on Thursdays at 12:30 - with a simple lunch to share - based on the Magnet resource The Promise of Advent.

    Hopefully something for most people in there somewhere

  • Learning Empathy

    I think my task this week might be to gain a little more empathy with those who live with chronic pain.  I wouldn't be so bold as to term what I am experiencing pain - more stiffness, aches and discomfort (though it's a bit odd feeling your skull is stiff!) - but it is making me appreciate more what life might be like for those who live with chronic joint, bone or muscle pain.

    Now, lest you worry I've gone all holy and Pollyanna on you, no I don't think this happened so I could learn empathy, just that given it did happen, by default I do.  At least, a little bit - in a few days my aches will pass and normality will resume, and I only have to experience this twice more in the next couple of months.  For some people it is day and daily - every day they ache, each morning they hurt, each night they wince... I can't imagine how people who experience chronic pain say so positive, yet most do.

    I am fortunate, the aches I am experiencing are 'lower grade' than most of the injury pains I've sustained over many years of hiking, and I am not reduced to pill-popping simply to get by.  There are many people for whom this cannot be said, every movement brings pain and struggle.  So for a moment, I pause to enter the edges of their world, glad I can soon slip back to my own...

  • Returning to "Normality"

    A week away from work - well as much as I can manage without physically going away - has been pleasurable and due to being week 3/1 of a chemo cycle meant I was able to enjoy most of it with normal energy levels etc.  With my drug change I was promised joint/bone aches - and today there are the first hints of their arrival.  I am amused in a perverse way as the aches feel very like those caused by serious hill walking, albeit located in my bones rather than my muscles.  The sense of being a bit seized up or doing what my walking friend and I term 'the old lady shuffle' when I move off from rest make my metaphor a bit more realistic.  So far in this cycle my energy levels are holding up - another similarity to 'real' hill climbing.

    Back to work tomorrow and the beginnings of Advent preparation.  I love Advent, and I love the excitement it brings for children.  My kitchen is full of ingredients for our Advent Sunday evening service, and I am looking forward eagerly to the two services that day which I will co-lead with others (mysteriously planned in to our scheme even before any of this reality was known to us ... cue spooky music).

    I'm glad to be back to whatever passes for normal just now... and looking forward to being back with my lovely, lovely people at church on Sunday for worship and our Advent lunch for students.  God is good, and as Advent reminds us, God has come, is coming and will come...