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  • Alternative Carols

    A lot of alternative carols being written and shared this year... all credit to Citizens UK, JPIT and BUGB who are actively sharing the videos and tagging Amber Rudd MP.


    Please like, share, tweet...

  • An Advent Calendar of Sorts - 17th December

    This photo records a rare event... Sasha is not a lap-cat, she loves to run around, chase red dots or feathers, supervise the printer or watch TV from the safety of her radiator bed, but sitting on my knee is very rare.  And it does't last long - a couple of minutes if I'm lucky.  So the fact that today she sat on my knee long enough for me to take this selfie is pretty impressive!

    And of course, it meant that I sat down and still for a few minutes too - you can't type or write or do much of anything with a cat on your knee.

    Yesterday the text I was assigned for Uni Chapel prayers was from 1 Thessalonians 3, and the exhortation not to be idle!  I reflected, ad hoc, that in the run up to Christmas, and at the end of term, there is no chance of idleness!  Instead of telling my congregation to 'do something' I told them to 'do nothing' to take five and simply be.

    Yesterday afternoon, after yet more business, three of us sat down and shared a cup of tea and some chat as we waited for the rush hour traffic to pass.  It was a rare stop in a busy, busy time for all of us.  And it was good.

    Five minutes with Sasha... an important Advent reminder that sometimes what is needed is not to do more, not even to do better, but to stop, put the kettle on and take five...


    In the interests of equity, here is one of me with lap cat Sophie!

    sophie and me.jpg

  • An Advent Calendar of Sorts - 16th December

    Yesterday was one of those dull, wet days where it never really got light. I was in town for a meeting which finished around dusk. Emerging into the stidgeon (sp?) gloom, I was struck by the cheery brightness of the lights.


    A visual reminder that Advent is about such defiant expression of joy, hope, life...


    As the shortest day draws nearer it's good to be surprised by moments of lightness and brightness.

  • An Advent Calendar of Sorts - 15th December

    Whilst searching a well known online store, I stumbled across "The Epic Party Game: Santa vs Jesus" and I think I am going to treat myself to it, and, hopefully persuade a few folk to join me in playing it over the "holidays".

    It's a great play on the annual festive conundrum or tension that faces those of us who profess to be Christian. 

    Rightly, we wonder if we should refuse to join in the make believe with our children/grandchildren because how are they to believe what we say about Christ if what we say about Father Christmas is, for want of a better word, lies.

    And yet there is another way of looking at it that moves beyond true/false fact/fiction binary distinctions to truth-bearing.

    The stories and customs around St Nicholas have very early origins and arose from generosity to people who were poor.  Anonymous gift-giving is a wonderful thing.

    My former boss used to say, with a twinkle in his eye, that it must be true, becuase it happens every year... he didn't mean he believed in a literal Sannta Claus, he meant that the spirit or essence of Christmas was an important truth re-enacted, however badly, year in, year out.

    Even the theologian John Hull used Father Christmas in his excellent work "What Stops Christain Adults from Learning" (a clever and inspired choice because of precisely the parallels with the Victorian, sentimental nativity).

    So, Santa versus Jesus?  Well Jesus wins, for me, every time because his story is richer and fuller and more demanding.  But Santa... well, on the whole he seems to be pretty harmless, it's human greed that turns him into a money-grabbing monster!

    Will you be hanging up your stocking or pillow case? Will you set up a nativity scene?  Either, both, neither? Whatever you decide, I hope your Advent and Christmas have a winning formula.

  • An Advent Calendar of Sorts - 14th December

    Yesterday a very small group of us were in the church building taking out the last remaining bits and pieces (mostly to the dump), swtiching off all non-essential power supplies, checking the alarms, and, where needed, changing or adding locks.

    One of the very last things to be lifted down, from a long abandoned corner, was this 'welcome' sign.  Alas it is damp and probably carries spores of mildew so we had to let it go, but the sentiments remain.

    Welcome - or its absence - is a self-evident Advent theme.  We have created a whole myth of inhospitable inn-keepers, and invented a stable, from a tiny detail in Luke's birth narrative.  And in so-doing we have discovered, or expressed, an important truth about human nature, the suspicion of 'other', the challenge of 'one demand too many' and of course the Biblical/faith-based imperative to welcome the stranger.

    I find myself pondering welcome in two directions/dimensions...

    First, and probably more important, to whom can, should and will I extend a welcome?

    Secondly, where, when and how do I recognise myself being welcomed by others... i.e. I am alert enough to recognise it when it happens?