By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.

- Page 2

  • An Advent Calendar of Sorts - 21st December

    I took this photo, looking out of my kitchen window, just before 8 a.m. and it is still almost pitch dark... in the last few minutes there is the slighest hint of blackness becoming velvety blue.  And in a maximum of eight hours from now it will be as dark again.

    The shortest day (in the northern hemisphere)

    The winter solstice

    The day on which our pre-Christian forebears would create a festival to honour the light and the sun, which our Christian forebears would adopt/adapt steal/supplant with a celebration of the birth of Christ, the light of the world.

    I love the feel of early morning darkness, when the world still sleeps and the air is still, when the rush of the day is yet to come and I can savour a few moments.

    Yet for many, the darkness of winter feels oppressive, even malevolent, the nights are too long and the days too short.

    When we were teenagers, my sister, who is not a fan of the dark, cold dankness that so often accompanies this time of year, oberserved that, if Christmas didn't exist, we'd need to invent it... She recognised the human need for light and warmth, hope and celebration... just as did the ancients.

    I have friends who will celebrating yule as well as, or instead of, Christmas, and that's fine by me.

    On this shortest of days - the sky is now almost mid-blue though the street lights continue to be needed - why not take a moment of stillness, recognise and name how it feels for you - and then create some brightness and lightness to lift your spirits and declare that light is stronger than darkness!


    PS for antipodean readers - happy longest day!  Hope you are enjoying lots of sunshine.

  • An Advent Calendar of Sorts - 20th December

    A somewhat self-indulgent photo choice for today.. gifts and cards from yesterday (before the postie arrived, so a few more cards came later!)

    I loved every card and every gift, carefully chosen and lovingly sent.  I loved that the senders clearly know me well, and I love the humour expressed.

    Yesterday evening we had a Deacons' meeting, begining with a shared meal, including birthday cake, and I have to admit that, by the end of it, we were all rather giggly: must have been all the sugar in the icing because we were strictly TT!  We got a lot of work done, some of it very important and serious, some of it urgent, some of it long term.  And all of it with some good humour and unexpected laughter, which is a great gift.

    Advent and Christmas seems to have some humour, at least if we are in the right frame of mind to see it.  Whether it is elderly people becoming parents, shepherds abandoning their sheep, astronomers/astrologers following a star... it's all a bit ridiculous really, and, if you eat enough pink butter icing, you too might end up giggling helplessly at it all.

    Laughter is a gift - remember the story of Abraham and Sarah whose son Isaac was named for laughter... sometimes God meets us in the most ridiculous ways, in belly laughs, uncontrollable giggles or, if it's a Sunday, polite titters ;-)

  • On Friendship....

    A poem/prayer/reflection thingy I will be sharing with my Deacons this evening...

    I do not stand alone

    But with others to support me

    I will stand my ground.


    I do not see the way

    But with others to walk it with me

    I can make a path.


    I do not possess the truth

    But with others to witness to what they know

    I will be able to discern what is right.


    I cannot master all skills

    But with others who will lend their accomplishments

    I can do enough.


    I cannot carry every burden

    But with others to share it

    I may bear my own load.


    I cannot meet all needs

    But with others to nourish and replenish me

    I will be able to give enough.


    I do not have limitless free choice

    But with others to consult

    I will make my own choices gladly.


    I will not always be consistent

    But with others to laugh at me

    I will regain my equanimity.


    I am not invincible

    But with others to reach out a hand

    I may learn from my mistakes and start again.


    I cannot be perfect

    But with others to make up the shortfall of my imperfections

    I can be content to be good enough.


    Nicola Slee, Doing December Differently, Wildgoose Publications, 2006, p 169

  • An Advent Calendar of Sorts - 19th December

    Yesterday evening lots of churches were holding carol services - "Carols by Candlelight" plus/minus evangelistic message plus/minus refreshments - and that it good.  

    We didn't.

    The last few weeks have been demanding and difficult for many of the folk who take a leading role in our usual shared, choral service of lessons and carols.  Several folk are recently bereaved and still grieving; others have faced, and continue to face, huge challenges; all of us are all too aware of the troubled world of which we are part.

    So it was a privilege to sit down with A just over a week ago to pull together "something" out of which "A Quiet Christmas" was born.

    We dimmed the lights as best we could, lit loads of candles, sat in a circle and shared in some poems and songs, topped and tailed by Isaiah's 'people who walked in darkness" and Revelation's "no more death or tears".

    For some, tears flowed.  For others the stillness gave space to reflect.  For many there was a sense of rightness and, in some small measure, release.

    In the hours before the service, I had made time to think back over my own year, to recognise and name those things for which I had yet to grieve... the strange grief of a TAH & BSO that only someone who has been there can understand (I certainly didn't)... the grief for and on behalf of my mother no longer able to sustain independent living and forced to move into care... the grief for my favourite uncle who died in May... the grief of packing up and clearing out my Mum's flat and leaving, finally, all tangible, physical links with my childhood... the grief for friends who died... the grief of losing one of my 'Spice' (minister's wives) albeit at the age of 102... the grief of watching others grieve, whether for loved ones or for their loved church... So it was good to pause, recognise and name those things, and in the naming to (start to) let them go.

    As the writer of John said so eloquently: the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood or overcome it.

  • An Advent Calendar of Sorts - 18th December

    One of my absolute favourite days of the church year is the annual Sunday School Nativity service, and this  year was definitely one of the best ever.  In a borrowed room ourselves, a conscious choice had been made not to go for the 'ah' factor but to embrace some of the tensions of celebrating the birth of Christ in the world of which we are part, where refugees, asylum seekers and migrants are very much in our thoughts and prayers.

    It's impossible to do justice to the experience which included traditional and contemporary rewrites of carols, Biblie readings and stories from Bethlehem today, beautiful choral singing and the stunning image of small children lending Jesus their shawls and blankies, the JPIT "Very British nativity", a reflection on the significance and symbolism of keys and so much more, yet never once crossed that fine line from worship to performance.

    Only our third week in the hotel, and already visitors are finding us, and enjoying wprshipping with us.

    Only our third week, and we have halved the time for setting up and clearing up.

    Only the third week, and we had to bring in extra chairs and open the doors because it was too warm!

    Feeling very blessed (and very full after lunch with a namesake, her fiance and a Hungarian!)


    Photo (c) Brian Muir (cropped)