Thursday, 24 December 2020
Well, the time is finally here. It is Christmas Eve. Not as we expected, but it is here. One of my early Christmas memories goes back to my childhood, when on one Christmas Eve I got to play the angel in our home Nativity play. I had my long white nightdress on and even had the obligatory wings made out of twisted wire and covered with white sheets. I remember it especially, because this time I had actually, got some words to say: “Glory to God in the highest heaven...” Up till then my only ‘stage appearance’ was in a school play, which was a non-speaking role. I was a rose tree stood at the side of the stage. The tree started off a perky, well-growing, flourishing plant and gradually, through the play it wilted and eventually died. You can imagine what a demanding role that was! It didn’t occur to me then that I was actually enacting a great metaphor of life.
But back to the angel. Angels had a busy time in my childhood Christmases even apart from our Nativity Play. According to our family tradition they were the ones who brought the presents and put them under the tree. They were also the ones, who – during Advent – secretly deposited small amounts of change in the pantry so that we, the children, with no other means, could have some money for the presents we wanted to give. We called it angel-money.
The Angels have started even earlier this year as they have brought the loveliest present to my family on 28th November in the shape of a baby boy, called Marcell. He was born to one of my nephews and his wife and within a few hours of the arrival of this little bundle of joy, the good news and his pictures traveled thousands of miles to take the good news to faraway relatives.
The Angels were just as busy around the time of Jesus’ birth according to the biblical birth narratives. In Luke’s Gospelit is their announcement that sends the shepherds to see and adore the new born child. There is something miraculous about every new birth at the best of times, and it was particularly so in Jesus’ time, when infant mortality rate was very high and a successful pregnancy was counted a double blessing. But even today it is not something people close to the event, would takefor granted. After nine months of joy and anxiety and careful nurturing by the mother’s body, the baby is finally ready to come out and start a new phase of life, which will be nothing like what has gone before. It is a joyful though traumatic experience to both mother and child.
We celebrate and rejoice and give thanks but do not know what the future may hold for the new baby. But celebrating Jesus’ birth we do know. Our joy holds together birth and cross and re-birth. It is beautifully expressed in Mark Greene’ poem used in the LICC Chistmas cards:
baby, this God, my God, Mary's son, Did
not come as an artist's impression, Oil
on canvas, tempera on wood,
but from the womb: bone, brain, heart, blood.
Came to show that this life,
Come what may, come what came to him...
country life: brothers, sisters, festivals, friends,
Hands calloused working wood and stone; and then
Temptation, betrayal, slander, shame,
Whip, nail, spittle, pain,
All evil's weight, and breath-taking death...
life, my life, any life could, with him,
be full, rich, free,
Come what comes, as he intended it to be.
is a promise,
The divine guarantee of this possibility:
God with us day by day in our humanity, Heaven-scented with the pledge of eternity.
A very Happy Christmas to All
On this Christmas Eve I want to say a big 'thank you' to everyone who has written for the blog, contributed articles or sent in nativity scenes. It's been great to 'journey' together through these Advent days.
In four weeks the blog has received over 1500 hits, that's 50 a day! None of it would have been possible without your contributions.
I hope you have a happy and blessed Christmas.
Wednesday, 23 December 2020
Well it may be Advent, the season of waiting for the coming of Jesus, but waiting has been a bit of a theme this year hasn’t it. Waiting to be allowed out of our houses for more than an hour at a time, waiting for the churches to be allowed to open, waiting to see if planned holidays can go ahead, waiting for a vaccine, and in our family waiting to see if a wedding, originally planned for July and rearranged four times, could finally go ahead last week. Well it did, and we gave thanks and celebrated as my son and his American fiancée finally became husband and wife at the historic Guildhall in Windsor on Saturday, in a ceremony which was streamed across the Atlantic and to other parts of the UK for family and friends unable to be there.
This year Radio Christmas broadcasting up until Christmas Eve, is all about fundraising for the poorest children and families in Guatemala and Honduras. The volunteers working there for Street Kids Direct, have worked tirelessly for a better future for them and to raise awareness globally of the plight of those considerably less well off than most of us.
Tuesday, 22 December 2020
So, what do we make of this in store poster campaign running in John Lewis stores during Christmas ? Is it a case of 'how dare they, that is our patch ? ' Or might we gently nod in semi-approval, it must be good that people are are getting a little close to some of those things we church people have been saying for some time. We might say that the more people approach the big things in life, then the better for all of us, more the merrier indeed !
They are not bad calls in this poster. Who can deny that more thoughts about people can lead to wider perceptions, or that giving more time to people can bring more understanding about each one of us ? No one can dispute that when we are touched in these ways, then big differences in how we live can follow ?
But what is missing from this poster, and the important things which it is not suggesting ?
We want to talk about the time of Advent, when we wait for the coming of the Lord, for things coming and things promised. We want to talk about the themes we find in these days of waiting, those of hope, peace, joy and love. We can celebrate a life found in the manger in Bethlehem, and then think on a sacrifice made on a cross.
And, by the way, we are thinking of so much more love, more
than just a
little more !
Hazel writes: Here is a photo of our nativity scene. At first it had no shepherds, which bothered me, so I eventually bought one - althoug...
Ian and I were very lucky to visit Rome in December 2018. While there, we visited an exhibition of nativity scenes from around the world a...
Our granddaughter Amelie with the nativity knitted by her great grandmother Hazel Clitherow
Last night we had a lovely surprise at The Manse. A church member arranged for some members of The Amersham Town Band, who had been playing...