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  • What The Magi Brought?

    Last night we began our evening series of 'travelling with the Magi' on the theme of gold.  Some interesting reflections on the 'city of gold' and how the fulfilment of the prophecies lay in a manger in a back street rather than a jewel-encrusted palace.

    After I got home, and whilst doing a bit of research online for my 'frankinsence' thing next Sunday, I stumbled across something that spoke of the therapeutic uses of frankincense and myrrh, and then found a link to this light, but thoughtful, post from Cancer Research UK.  Apparently, frankincense shows promise in treating some bladder cancers, and myrrh evidently for breast and prostate cancers... granted, not why we think the magi arrived carrying them, but interesting to be reminded once more of ancient wisdom that turns out to be scientifically sound.

    See also here for what the BBC said about frankincense in this context

  • First Week in Advent: Monday

    I decided, in a rash moment, that for the period of Advent I would endeavour to undertake a quick, off the cuff, reader response type, reflection on one or more of the daily lectionary readings for the day, and to try to link that to the theme for the week.  So this week, I am looking for things that connect with the idea of hope.

    According to the Northumbria Community, whose judgement I trust, the readings for today are:

    Psalm 104: 19-23

    Isaiah 45: 3 - 7

    Mark 1: 21 - 32

    (You can find the Nothumbria Community morning prayer and lectionary readings online here)

    As I read the three readings the line that struck me was from the Isaiah reading:

    "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." Isaiah 45:3

    What, I wonder, are the 'treasures of darkness'?  We tend to see darkness as negative, indeed, we love the metaphor of Christ as Light who dispels the darkness, yet here, God says, I will give you the treasures of darkness.

    Might it be that there are 'treasures', insights, precious memories, glimpses of grace, depths of love, that we can only discover in or through darkness?  Not that we should seek darkness or somehow make a virtue of suffering, absolutely not.  Not that we should capitulate to the unhelpful myth that 'whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger' (tosh! imo).  No.  Might it be that the hope that sustains us in the dark places, the 'little deaths', the 'dark nights of the soul', the sleepless nights of fear of anxiety... might it be that the hope that sustains us is that somehow God is present in the darkness, and the treasures we discover, unsought, unexpected, are tiny flickering candles with the audacity to say to the darkness "pah! you shall not win!"

    God, at whose word light and dark were parted, remind us that neither can hide us from your sight, from your love.

    God who is the light that cannot be extinguished by the darkness of death or sin or finitude, remind us that even the darkness is light to you

    God of hope, ever present in our darkest places, show as the treasures that lie hidden, and lead us forward into your everlasting light.


  • Advent 1 - Hope

    Patriachs and Adventurers was the title of today's service, and the attribute to which we aspired, hope.

    Joshua, in his commission from God is told three times 'be strong and (very) courageous' or, as the Good News puts it 'determined and confident'

    I presume he was told this three times because he would need to keep these quailities very much alive as he faced the realities of leading the Israelite nation.  Twice the 'be strong and courageous' is linked to an assurance of God's presence, once to an instruction to obey the law.  We pondered, extremely briefly, why two promises to one command, a somehow reassuring image of God, it has to be said.

    Be strong and very courageous...

    Be determined and confident...

    ... even when life is all trudge and drudge

    ... even when life is all uncertainty and bewilderment

    ... even when life is dull and boring

    ... even when life is safe and predictable

    ... even when fear and anxiety fill your heart

    ... even when you are perplexed and confused

    ... even when you feel like giving up

    ... even when you wonder 'why'

    ... even when doubt outweighs certainty

    Be strong, be courageous, be determined, be confident...

    ... for God is with us,

    ... God is for us,

    ... God will guard, guide and keep us

    This is our hope

    Our candle in the darkness

    And, despite all odds, we choose to believe

  • Recipitootles

    A family word for recipes.

    After yesterday's at home and the consequent repast at church I've had requests for two of the recipes.  Rather than try to remember who wanted them, I thought I'd post them here.  The imperial-metric conversions are different in each case, but either is OK so long as you are consistent.

    Grandma's Fruit Cake

    8oz (200g) self raising flour

    4oz (100g) caster sugar

    12oz (300g) mixed dried fruit

    4 oz (100g) glace cherries, halved

    2 eggs, beaten

    4oz (100g) butter or margarine, melted

    1/4 tsp mixed spice

    1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

    Pinch salt

    3/4 cup milk (about 6 floz or 175ml)

    Vanilla or almond essence


    Prehat oven to 160C/325F/ Gas Mark 3

    Grease and line a loaf tin

    Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and beat well!

    Pour into tin and bake for 2 hours


    Cheesy Scones

    8oz (250g) self-raising flour

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 1/2 oz (40g) butter or margarine

    1/4 pint (150ml) buttermilk

    6-8 oz (175 - 250g) grated strong cheddar


    Preheat oven to 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8 and place a baking sheet in to warm up

    Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.  Now stir in the cheese.

    Rub in the butter/margarine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

    Make a well in the mixture and pour in the buttermilk and mix lightly to a soft dough

    Turn out onto a floured boards and knead livery lightly to smooth the outside.

    Roll out to about 1/4 in (1.5 cm) thick and cut into rounds

    Place on preheated baking sheet and cook for 8-10 minutes

    Serve hot or cold with butter or spread.



    ENJOY!  We did.

  • Come, For All is Now Ready...

    ... well just about.

    Having overseen the baking, making, hiding of clutter and with just the hoovering, dusting and final touches to be done after my leaping about session, Holly in her best liturgical fashion invites you to come and share, for all is now ready (or will be by 2 p.m.)

    Suffice to say after all that episcopacy, she is exhausted and taking a well earned nap!