Card

It is the last day of the year and I could issue a ‘state of the nation’ blog and share things of import in my life and the world. But I am not going to.

It is still Christmas (don’t get me started on singing carols in November); I managed to send a few Christmas cards on 23rd December- life is too speeded up right now. I did not manage to send them all and I had to resort to a Christmas letter (but I am of the age where I like reading Christmas letters: just don’t make it less than point 10 font size or I may have to get my glasses). Consequently I was grateful to those who sent cards- I like getting them and reading them.

The best card I got was from someone whom I barely knew. He had been clearing out the house of his mum who, now in care, cannot remember even living there. He wrote the card to say ‘thanks’ that we looked out for his mum. We hardly did a thing . For that reason, and watching his grief, I was immensely touched. Some cards do that for me.

So if there is a moral or a lesson, it would be that the small things; the card, the smile, the thoughtful phone or text message are so much more important than the big goals or great achievements.

 

Happy New Year!

Present

As I get older I want fewer presents: I have so much ‘stuff’ knocking around the house that more does not seem necessary (I would quite like a car that is likely to still work in more than 6 months or so, but that is a different story).

I like this present though- it came, unasked for from a group of friends: yes, the thought really does count. Consequently it gave me a rosy feeling of connection.

I also love the playfulness of the product- religion reduced to a blow up toy that can offer you instant personal salvation without the need to engage with others.

I could blog at length about this….but I won’t. Mostly today I will be lying on a sofa somewhere and trying not to think deeply about anything….

The First Sermon

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The first sermon I ever preached ‘officially’ was 21 years ago this Sunday: 27th December 1992. It was far too long, it rambled (no change there) and within 18 months the church building fell down (no connection).

During that sermon I read a letter that I had seen in the Guardian (once a bleeding heart liberal, always a bleeding heart liberal) from a 13 year old boy in Bosnia to Santa: the Bosnian conflict was at its height then. The letter went like this:

‘I have one wish for you Santa but you might not be able to make it true. I wish all the dead boys and girls who were my friends could be alive again so that we could be together again at Christmas…. I miss them a lot and it’s very boring without them’.

That was poignant then, now with a 12 year old son of my own, even more so.

On that Sunday, being a freewheeling evangelical and regarding the liturgical year as almost heretical, I chose Matthew 2:1-12. I wish I had been liturgical and chose Matthew 2:14-8:-

‘That night, Joseph got up and took his wife and the child to Egypt, where they stayed until Herod died. So the Lord’s promise came true, just as the prophet had said, “I called my son out of Egypt.

 When Herod found out that the wise men from the east had tricked him, he was very angry. He gave orders for his men to kill all the boys who lived in or near Bethlehem and were two years old and younger. This was based on what he had learned from the wise men.

 So the Lord’s promise came true, just as the prophet Jeremiah had said,

 “In Ramah a voice was heard     crying and weeping loudly. Rachel was mourning     for her children, and she refused to be comforted,     because they were dead.”

I didn’t chose that. I think I had picked up the covert message : bad stuff/unexplained suffering must never be acknowledged from the front unless it is followed by a happy ending. Which was tragic: when the wheels fall off life and you have had no grounding in these passages of lament and suffering, you have no awareness that the Bible is full of stuff like this.

I am ‘off’ today- I hope if I was ‘on’ I would make up for my mistakes of 21 years ago.

Another quote…

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This quote has the air of Advent about it, but I like it, even though we are on the 3rd day of Christmas:-

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.”  Anne Lamott

Christmas is a time when Hope is high; whether we believe or not, there is the hope that things could be different, ‘Where bitterness ends, where enemies become friends’ (to paraphrase ‘Faithless: God is a DJ’). But then it gets dark, cold and January is a loooong month and it is too hard. Sometimes beginning Hope is so hard as it doesn’t ‘feel’ right, but I guess that you could just be stubborn….

Christmas Day

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(Image: http://rssadvent.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/02/)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  

He was in the beginning with God. 

 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.

What has come into being  in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Waiting

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I got sent this years ago. I think it is from http://abbotsford.typepad.com/abbotsford/mucky_paws/. As I get older, I am more attracted to written stuff, to voices other than my own. I use a lot of words; too many and it is good to listen and use those who are more adept than I am.

The stable:
It waits its turn

 The angels:
They wait for the chorus

 The stars:
They wait to guide

 The light: It waits to break through

 The prophets:
They wait to hear

 The Shepherds:
They wait to proclaim

 The wise ones:
They wait to visit

 The parents:
they wait to love

 Us
We wait to rejoice

 All are waiting for God

for God is not yet ready

But soon

very soon

An old poem

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An old Steve Turner poem. Old but still thought provoking.

Christmas is really
for the children.
Especially for children
who like animals, stables,
stars and babies wrapped
in swaddling clothes.
Then there are wise men,
kings in fine robes,
humble shepherds and a
hint of rich perfume.

Easter is not really
for the children
unless accompanied by
a cream filled egg. It has whips, blood, nails,
a spear and allegations
of body snatching.
It involves politics, God
and the sins of the world.
It is not good for people
of a nervous disposition.
They would do better to
think on rabbits, chickens
and the first snowdrop
of spring.

Or they’d do better to
wait for a re-run of
Christmas without asking
too many questions about
what Jesus did when he grew up
or whether there’s any connection.

 

Joseph

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This morning, I am leading an all age/carol service around Joseph. I can’t stand gimmicks for gimmicks’ sake in an act of worship so I normally have loads of stuff I never use; in depth Bible work, quotes, random thoughts etc. I don’t often get to read Matthew 1:18-25 and this service is based on that.

Whether you believe it or not, if you look at the passage (please remember, these guys were not writing history as we now understand it….), Joseph had a lot of courage to do what he did. Initially a lot of courage to behave as he intended to; compassionately and against the cultural mores. But after that, when he believed he had had a visit from God, to rebel even further against what was expected or reasonable: God save us from a ‘reasonable’ faith. It ain’t the kind of courage that makes the average sermon illustration: the great man who dominates, overcomes and has success…. it is rather the quiet, firm courage of the little person that endures, even when an outcome cannot be seen. Here is a quote I never used:-

‘I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do’. – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird