Tag Archive: Christmas


Happy Christmas Everyone

I do hope that you are otherwise occupied and really do not have the time to read this post. Whether you are with family, eating a special meal, enjoying entertainment, going for a walk, visiting church etc, I hope that you have some joy today.

But I do realise that, for some of us, today is a difficult day. When we are supposed or expected to be “merry” but most definitely are not feeling that way. Perhaps there is someone who is not here today whom you really miss. Or perhaps you are not well; or maybe you are not in a place you would like to be.

When we are on our own – or perhaps surrounded by other people – our loneliness, sadness, disappointment or frustration stands out all the more in contrast to the lights, laughter, excitement and music which are associated with today. There are all kinds of reasons for feeling low today. Maybe that is you.

That is OK. Believe it or not, today will not last forever.

I don’t know whether you will decide to hide away somewhere, or go away for a few days or simply put on a brave face for the sake of others. That is up to you. I would like to remind you that you are not the only one and that you have not been forgotten.

And if you are having a happy Christmas, please do enjoy it. Please, also, spare a thought and a prayer for those, for whatever reason, who are not.

May I wish you a “Happy Christmas” and may God bless you.

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A Christmas Poem

Courtesy of the Bible Society, here is a neat, child-friendly, summary of the meaning of Christmas:

Enjoy!

An Advent hymn

Help, I’ve already had two Christmas lunches and a carol service and Christmas is still three weeks away. I suppose it doesn’t matter that much – not one has died as a result of not keeping Advent. However, it was suggested that perhaps we get so caught up with Christmas and the celebration of Jesus’ first coming, that we lose sight of the other meaning of Advent. As well as looking forward to Christmas there is looking forward to Jesus’ return, his second coming, just as he promised. I sense (and this includes me) that many Christians may well nod in agreement with the idea of Jesus’ return and yet. And yet, while we may still be waiting, we have given up expecting him.

So as a reminder to myself I re-read this old Advent hymn. It was written around 500 years ago by John Milton. As with all poetry, it is better read (or sung) out loud.

The Lord will come and not be slow,
his footsteps cannot err;
before him righteousness shall go,
his royal harbinger.

Truth from the earth, like to a flower,
shall bud and blossom then;
and justice, from her heavenly bower,
look down on mortal men.

Rise, God, judge thou the earth in might,
this wicked earth redress;
for thou art he who shalt by right
the nations all possess.

The nations all whom thou hast made
shall come, and all shall frame
to bow them low before thee, Lord,
and glorify thy name.

For great thou art, and wonders great
by thy strong hand are done:
thou in thy everlasting seat
remainest God alone.

John Milton, the elder (c.1563–1647) based on verses from Psalms 82, 85, 86
from “Ancient & Modern”, no. 51

A few cracker jokes

To be honest, I thought that this year’s crop of cracker jokes were quite poor. I don’t mean that the puns were terrible (that’s what they are supposed to be, after all) but several “jokes” seemed to have been machine generated by a mindless contraption: Not AI (Artificial Intelligence) but AS you might call it (Artificial Stupidity).

These are some of the least worst plus a few from “Cracker Jokes” collected by Amanda Li

Q. What do you get if you cross an elephant with a hose?
A. A jumbo jet.

Q. Who hid in the bakery at Christmas?
A. A mince spy.

Q. What sort of sentence would you get if you broke the law of gravity?
A. A suspended one.

Q. Why did the bloke get fired from the orange juice factory?
A. Because he couldn’t concentrate.

Q. What has 22 legs and 2 wings but cannot fly?
A. A soccer team.

Q. What jumps from cake to cake and smells of almonds?
A. Tarzipan.

Q. What is read and white and goes up and down and up and down?
A. Santa Claus stuck in a lift.

Q. What do you call lobsters who won’t share their toys?
A. Shellfish.

Q. What shouldn’t you eat before breakfast on Christmas Day?
A. Christmas lunch.

Happy New Year


							

Boxing Day Blues can begin any time after sunset on Christmas Eve.

It’s a bit like Vogon poetry. You may recall, if you have read or watch “The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy”, that when Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect have been ‘rescued’ by a Vogon starship, they were invited to comment on Vogon poetry (said to be the third worst in the galaxy). The two heroes suggest that underneath it all, the dreadful Vogon poetry reveals that deep down the Vogons are really nice guys who just want to be loved like any one else. It turns out that the Vogon captain uses poetry to put his meanness into sharp relief – in other words to emphasise how really bad they are. That said, he then orders Arthur and Ford to be jettisoned out of an airlock into space (without spacesuits) and that is where, you could say, their adventure really begins.

Christmas can be a bit like that sometimes. The magic, the joy, the fellowship, the “poetry” of Christmas can sometimes stand in stark contrast to our circumstances and/or to how we are feeling. Does it make us feel better if we realise that some of the jollity is a bit forced or exaggerated? When it seems that everyone else is happy, warm and well fed and we are not (perhaps two out of three?). I can count my blessings but I have not forgotten the Christmases when my spirits were low including the year when they were bleak. The cold winter brought snow but there were few sparkles in the frost that I had on the inside.

I can’t tell you what you feel or what you could/should do. Christmas may or may not feel like Vogon poetry. The thing is, and this is not much of a plot spoiler, Arthur and Ford do get rescued.

As for the religious message of Christmas: Jesus was tested in every sort of way that we are – that is one of the meanings of “the incarnation” (sorry about the theology during Christmas). God in Jesus knows what it is like; he knows from personal experience the sort of things we go through (short of actually sinning, that is). He is with us.

Merry Christmas, despite everything.

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat,
Of ‘Peace on earth, good will to men!’

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song,
Of ‘Peace on earth, good will to men!’

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day –
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime,
Of ‘Peace on earth, good will to men!’

And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said,
‘For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!’

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The wrong shall fail,
The right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men!’

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

The coming

Here’s another poem by R. S. Thomas which I think is appropriate to the seasons of Advent and Christmas, as well as Good Friday.

The coming

And God held in his hand
A small globe. Look, he said.
The son looked. Far off,
As though through water, he saw
A scorched land of fierce
Colour. The light burned
There; crusted buildings
Cast their shadows: a bright
Serpent, a river
Uncoiled itself, radiant
With slime.
On a bare
Hill a bare tree saddened
The sky. Many people
Held out their thin arms
To it, as though waiting
For a vanished April
To return to its crossed
Boughs. The son watched
Them. Let me go there, he said.

Annunciation

Go to a maternity ward,
To the birthing room
To the clinic,
To childless
To the worried parents to be
To the devastated parents not-to-be
To the nursery
To the operating room
To the memorial

And then write a poem about the annunciation
About the physical reality of Mary being pregnant
With the Word-made-flesh.

Unless you have wondered at human-being-flesh
How can you begin to marvel at God-taking-flesh?

Advent 1955

The Advent wind begins to stir
With sea-like sounds in our Scotch fir,
It’s dark at breakfast, dark at tea,
And in between we only see
Clouds hurrying across the sky
And rain-wet roads the wind blows dry
And branches bending to the gale
Against great skies all silver-pale.
The world seems travelling into space,
And travelling at a faster pace
Than in the leisured summer weather
When we and it sit out together,
For now we feel the world spins round
On some momentous journey bound –
Journey to what? To whom? To where?
The Advent bells call out ‘Prepare,
Your world is journeying to the birth
Of God made Man for us on earth.’
And how, in fact, do we prepare
For the great day that waits us there –
The twenty-fifth day of December,
The birth of Christ? For some it means
An interchange of hunting scenes
On coloured cards. And I remember
Last year I sent out twenty yards,
Laid end to end, of Christmas cards
To people that I scarcely know –
They’d sent a card to me, and so
I had to send one back. Oh dear!
Is this a form of Christmas cheer?
Or is it, which is less surprising,
My pride gone in for advertising?
The only cards that really count
Are that extremely small amount
From real friends who keep in touch
And are not rich but love us much.
Some ways indeed are very odd
By which we hail the birth of God.
We raise the price of things in shops,
We give plain boxes fancy tops
And lines which traders cannot sell
Thus parcell’d go extremely well.
We dole out bribes we call a present
To those to whom we must be pleasant
For business reason. Our defence is
These bribes are charged against expenses
And bring relief in Income Tax.
Enough of these unworthy cracks!
‘The time draws near the birth of Christ’,
A present that cannot be priced
Given two thousand years ago.
Yet if God had not given so
He still would be a distant stranger
And not the Baby in the manger.

by Sir John Betjeman (1906-1984)

 

Pink

The pink candle
Is the one you light
on the third Sunday of Advent
no more than a fortnight, two Sundays
before Christmas day

the idea is to spend this month before the Feast
reflecting on the woes of the world and
on the promises God makes to his people
of forgiveness, justice, hope, peace
heavy, serious, life-changing, world-changing stuff;

so for one day, before the Big Day, we lighten up a little
and have some pink among the dark colours
to rejoice a little

I wonder if we are so busy
partying among the tinsel
– another mince pie, sir?
Don’t the little ones look cute
Don’t drink and drive
– and so on –
so busy celebrating that we haven’t
got the time to rejoice a little
in the cosmic blessings that
we barely glimpse even
when we are paying attention

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