How sweet to smell the flower that grows upon life’s vine,
For though its presence’s fleeting the fragrance is divine.
These moments that come winging on life’s oft trampled way
Are what set your heart to singing and brighten up the day
Take in these precious moments and hide them in your heart
To gaze on in remembrance when present joys depart.
So special are these flowers, don’t let one pass you by
But gaze at them for hours, their holy joys imbibe.
“I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”. (Mth. 8:20) Having spent a great part of my life in the far reaches of the world I somehow always applied this verse concerning distance. I recalled this morning it works both ways, like an enormous cross spanning both distance and time. The world may be hurtling towards its end but God remains with us! “Though we (or the world) are faithless, yet He abides faithful. He cannot deny Himself.”
This has been a difficult and confusing year for many, both in the political turmoil and in personal lives. Only the last dregs now remain in the bottle, don’t feel you must mull them over and take in the toxins. Instead, grasp a new bottle of champas, get ready to pop the cork and celebrate new beginnings. A fresh, unsullied, new year, awaits us. Take a good, mouth swilling, swig!
Our old assistant pastor, while visiting us from the US where she’s doing a training course, told the most amazing story. Apparently, five well-known pastors had gathered to pray for the UK elections. Being the only UK one around she was asked to join them. The intense prayer was accompanied by physical manifestations (those are personal to her and not mine to share) but she was overwhelmed by their concern for the future unity of the UK.
Of course, many of us were praying here also, but this gesture of unity with us touched my heart. Thanks be to God the prayers were answered. Whichever side of the political divide the overwhelming prayer of the people here was for unity to be able to move forward after a year of political chaos. Whatever paths we take as a nation we now have once more a functioning parliament. Thanks for your part in that guys!
It hasn’t felt like Christmas. There have been glimmers here and there, in the smiles and hugs of friends, in the Christmas messages, but somehow each year it dwindles as the Christmas child stands neglected by all but a few.
Even on TV there used to be several nativity movies to choose from at Christmas, but even Netflix and Amazon Prime had none. There are no carollers on our doorsteps (they’ve switched to Halloween) and TV has long replaced family carols around the piano. I sometimes feel I’m searching here and there, under this or behind that for Christmas. I look back in nostalgia to long ago Christmases when it was cold and presents lay at the end of the bed so we could stay warm opening them till dad went to build up the coal fire. When dads got ties or socks and kids were often disappointed on opening presents to find hand-knitted sweaters of questionable taste. When money was short, and joys were simple, and the tree candles could be lit only for a few minutes due to the fire risk. When the table was heavy oak handed down from mother to daughter and we actually enjoyed the jokes and paper hats and were jolly without needing to resort to more than a glass of port or sherry.
No good to look back, those days are past, along with the simplicity of childhood. No, better to look forward, to light a candle, that by it the Christ child’s face can yet be seen. For light is seen better in darkness. Rather than to seek a flame to warm our hearts, rather be that flame, be a warm, cosy fire to warm others and be warmed in return. Do not seek Christmas but live it, only in this shall we find the Christ child.
Best family Christmas service I’ve seen, especially since we’ve been without a pastor for almost a year!
It began with the “host’s” three-year-old son singing “Happy birthday Jesus” to celebrate Jesus birthday party -so cute! Followed by a boy I’d not seen before, wheeling in a giant birthday cake (to be shared after the service) complete with candles for the little ones to come blow out. There were nativity costumes among the congregation, many of which were invited to enter into an enactment of the delightful children’s book “A Well Good Christmas”.
We discovered the labels we found on our seats (shepherd, wiseman etc.) were to enable us all to join in waves of standing for the adaption of the 12 days of Christmas. Best of all though were the new faces of families coming to join in for the first time!