Showing posts from 2011

New Year's Eve

It's New Year's Eve so here's some fireworks

- and below, a prayer for the New Year 2012, witten by Christine Sine with some of the traumatic world events of the last year in mind and posted on her website Godspace

God the eternal rock is with us, From year’s beginning to its end, In hard times and in good, God is with us from year’s beginning to its end. God almighty is faithful, Present in each day and every moment, Drawing close in every act and deed, God is faithful through all eternity. God is trustworthy, Yesterday, today and forever, Sustaining, enlivening, making all things new, God the eternal rock is with us this day and evermore.

Looking for something different?

Try my previous New Year's Eve posts: 

On Not Making a New Year's Eve Resolution


Image: by Anthony Cramp, Creative Commons

Skipping a Day

30 December 2011 is a day the people of Samoa have decided to skip. They are going straight from Thursday 29 to Saturday 31 December - but only this year. Those with a birthday on 30 December can look forward to a proper celebration on the right day on 30 December 2012.

The nation is close to the International Dateline and since 1892 it has been officially east of the line in order to facilitate commerce with trading partners in the US and Europe. This made the line a strange shape around the Samoan islands. When persuaded by the US to change from west to east of the line in 1892 they did this by repeating a Monday. Samoa now does far more trade with countries like Australia, New Zealand, China and the Pacific rim so (calendar wise) Samoa is moving west. They will now be 1 hour ahead of Wellington, New Zealand instead of 23 hours behind. 

This change has created a dilemma for the 7th Day Adventist Church which observes the sabbath on Saturday. Samoan 7th day Adventist Church leaders hav…

The Forgotten Christmas Story

Today is Holy Innocents Day - a day to remember the part of the Christmas story we may want to forget, in order to keep Christmas 'happy' and continue an escape from things that make us miserable or afraid.

The massacre of infant boys by King Herod as told in Matthew 2: 13 - 18 doesn't often feature on Christmas cards - that would be too grisly. Such cruel images would spoil sentimental Christmas pictures. But a nostalgic and sanitised Christmas card scene was not the world into which Jesus was born and it is not the world in which we live.

In a world where so many vulnerable children do suffer neglect, hunger, abuse and even murder, where tyrants still crush the powerless, the story of the murdered babies of Bethlehem still speaks into today's real world. The grief of parents who suffer the death of their children, for whatever reason, is still a universal story. The suffering of those forced by oppressive regimes to flee as refugees still goes on. 

Image: photo of wood-…

Third Day of Christmas

It's the 3rd day of Christmas. (There are 12 days of Christmas).

My true love hasn't yet presented me with 'Three French Hens' today, so I'm making do with this image of a painting by Annalein Beukenkamp.

My true love is at this moment offering tea and Christmas cake, so this won't be a long post.

It is alleged by some that the 'three french hens' in the song 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' represent the virtues of faith, hope and love. Alternatively they could refer to the 3 gifts of the wise men from the East who visited the infant Jesus. On the other hand the song is probably pure nonsense and just for fun.

Christmas Vespers

Christmas Vespers by Michael Praetorius composed in 17th centuy, sung by Toronto Consort, with selection of paintings from 16th and 17th centuries. Enjoy and ponder.

Christmas Eve Round-up

Here's a Christmas Eve Round-up. Pour a glass of wine. Enjoy.

Firstly, just for fun, here are Christmas Greetings to the people of 'Great Britain' from The Simpsons, posted today by The Church Sofa here. People of Cornish ethnic origin may especially enjoy this.

From the Simpsons' kitchen, you might like to move to a field somewhere near Bethlehem. I love the imaginative tale of a shepherd about burnt porridge, a terrifying angel and a baby in Thinking Anglican's post today 'Burnt Porridge'.

There's a moving article by Archbishop Rowan Williams published in today's Times newspaper. If you don't want to pay to get behind the Times pay wall, you can read it for free here 'In Congo or in Croydon, God is there for us.'

Finally, from 'Good in Parts' an inspiring and short Christmas message 'Light Looked Down and Beheld Darkness'. 

Image Credit: Geralt on Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Paradoxes of Christmas

Paradoxes of Christmas
Rich Poor Heaven Earth Full Empty Love Hate Hope Fear Faith Doubt Spiritual Physical Divine Human Light

Mary: the Hope-Bearer

I'm thinking a lot about Mary the mother of Jesus at the moment. It must have something to do with Christmas. In this blog, I wrote about Mary's reaction to the message she received from the angel Gabriel in 'How Can This Be?' and 'Pondering an Announcement'
This December I've pondered Mary as 'Hope-Bearer' and wrote on this as a #digidisciple at The Big Bible Project. This post was first published as 'Hope-Bearer' on 14 December 2011 at The BIGBible Project  as the 3rd of my monthly series 'Blogging Women of the Gospels'. Here is what I wrote:

What is your picture of Mary, the mother of Jesus?When I was a child, Mary of Nazareth was the coveted role in the nativity play – the only decent role for a girl who enjoyed playing with dolls and dressing up like a grown-up. Then, when I was about 14 or 15, I learned that when Mary was pregnant with Jesus she was probably about my age. I began to see how difficult was the real-life role Mary…

No Time to Blog

Just when I have most to say, I really have no time to blog.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Watch this space - but only if you have nothing better to do!

Being Good News for Homeless People

More than 3000 people sleep rough on the streets of London each year. The average life-expectancy of a homeless person in England is 42 years. To find out more about Streetlytes-UK click here. It is one of the charities supported by the Church Urban Fund.

Festive Greetings

It's that time of year again - the time when Christmas greetings start to arrive by snail-mail, e-mail and other means. 

Usually the manner of the greeting reflects the personality, profession or world-view of the sender. Take lawyers for example.
Someone once said that to be a good lawyer you need the mind-set of a 10 year old. When one of our sons was that age, we understood exactly what was meant. To protect his privacy I won't spell out the details, other than to say he was gifted in complying with the letter of the law while identifying and exploiting the loopholes in parental instructions. 

It won't be any surprise to regular readers of this blog, that I like Christmas greetings to be exactly that - CHRISTMAS GREETINGS, not 'Seasons Greetings' or any other variation on that theme. That doesn't stop me enjoying the humour of this festive greeting allegedly from a lawyer.
 A 'Lawyer's Festive Greeting' is posted today by Catherine Fox on her Close E…


Here's a great performance in an unexpected setting - a Christmas Food Court Flash Mob and the Hallelujah chorus from The Messiah -  with thanks to Handel for composing it, Perpetua for sharing it yesterday on her Perpetually in Transit blog and AlphabetPhotography for uploading it to YouTube. I hope it didn't spoil anyone's hoped-for quiet lunch. 

St Nicholas Day

I woke this morning to find that St Nicholas hadn't filled my clogs with sweets.

It's probably my fault. I didn't put out my clogs last night.

And it was the eve of St Nicholas Day.

And I didn't leave any hay for his horse.

But I don't have any clogs. And I don't have any hay. And I'm not Dutch.

So I don't put out clogs and hay on St Nicholas' Eve.
So St Nicholas has passed me by.

It is his day today, so I'm giving a nod in his direction. It is certain that Nicholas was Bishop of Myra (then Greek, now in southern Turkey) in the 4th century. That is perhaps the only uncontested fact about him. Most of the legends about his life probably developed in the medieval period. But I think his reputation for generosity to those in need, love of children and concern for sailors may of grown from things that were true of his character and lifestyle. You can read more facts and legends about him here

J. Rosenthal and C. Myers wrote an interesting comparison betwe…

Mediation and St Andrew

Whatever you think about today's one-day strike of public sector employees in the UK, you'll probably agree that a useful person in a dispute is a good mediator - who brings people together, gets to know the issues and those involved well enough to help them find common ground, listen to one another and  negotiate. 

Today is St Andrew's Day. The apostle Andrew, one of the first disciples Jesus chose, is remembered for bringing people together. Specifically, the gospels record that Andrew

told his brother Peter about Jesus (John 1: 35 - 42)brought a boy with a few loaves and fishes to Jesus(John 6: 1 - 15)told Jesus about foreigners wanting to meet Jesus (John 12: 20 - 26)Andrew didn't do anything extraordinary, just what all Christians are called to do. He passed on to others what he had seen, heard and experienced of Jesus. He brought people to Jesus and he told Jesus about people who wanted to meet him. In the end, tradition has it that it cost Andrew his life, crucifi…

Barking Dogs on Eve of St Andrew's Day

This handsome creature is Argiope, a spider who spins silver webs starting with a diagonal cruciform shape, against which it aligns its legs.

It is sometimes known as the St Andrew's Cross spider.

Tomorrow is St Andrew's Day - more of that tomorrow.

There are some odd superstitions associated with the eve of St Andrew's Day, mostly connected with finding a mate.

I don't believe any of them, but it's fun to speculate how these traditions started.

ARE YOU A SINGLE WOMAN? Do you want to marry?Then today is the time to listen out for barking dogs and note where they are. Why? Because your future husband will come from that direction - so they say.NOT HEARING ANY BARKING DOGS? Never mind. Ask St Andrew's help. Sleep naked tonight and your future husband will visit your dreams - so they say.TOO COLD TO SLEEP NAKED IN NOVEMBER? Then wrap up warm and sit up to midnight. At midnight look for a sign that you will have a husband - this might be difficult to identify.YOU HAVEN&…

A Time to Remember

I don't usually post sermons, but if you are recently bereaved what follows may be of help.

Here is (more or less) the short address I gave yesterday, Advent Sunday afternoon, at a "service of thanksgiving and remembrance for loved ones". It immediately followed a time of quiet prayer.

The Bible reading was Psalm 130

Whether our bereavement is recent or longer ago, learning to live with the death of someone we love is hard and often very lonely. In this ‘time to remember’ I invite you to do 3 things: 
look backlook uplook forward.
Look back to remember. Memory is such a precious gift. For some, the person you love, but see no longer, has left you with wonderful memories to cherish. You are grateful for who they were, the love they gave you. Some may also have painful, hurtful memories. But each person we remember today left their mark on our lives. So we honor them, by acknowledging honestly what they were and still are to us. The memories may bring smiles or tears, make us …

Advent Waiting

I love this Advent meditation by Christine Sine, encouraging waiting for the coming of Christ. The music is Christ Child Lullaby played by Jeff Johnson. On this 1st Sunday of Advent that's all I want to post.

Nothing Impossible: Elizabeth's Story

Do you know Elizabeth's story? This post was first published on 14 November 2011 on the Big Bible Project as the 2nd of my monthly series 'Blogging Women of the Gospels. Here is what I wrote:
Watch outWatch out for Elizabeth’s story on the Twitter Nativity, starting soon. You can follow ‘Natwivity’ on Twitter or be a fan on Facebook. If Elizabeth’s voice seems absent from this year’s ‘Natwivity’, what’s stopping you tweeting for her? Elizabeth’s story sometimes gets forgotten in telling of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. But without Elizabeth’s encouragement and insight, who knows what might have happened to her young relative Mary? Elizabeth’s pregnancy was as unexpected and seemingly impossible as Mary’s. Disgrace and DisappointmentElizabeth was a good woman, from an elite family. She was married to a priest – Zechariah – for too many years not to have produced the expected children. Zechariah and Elizabeth were a faithful but childless couple. In the 1st century people assumed in…