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Showing posts from December, 2011

What if men organised Christmas?

2 Samuel 7.1-11,16, Romans 16.25-27, Luke 1.26-38
A recent survey of 2,000 men found a third of them were convinced that, if they were put in charge of organising Christmas, it would be less rushed, less stressful and less expensive. One female commentator remarked acidly that she didn’t believe Christmas would be less rushed if men were put in charge, simply because the planning wouldn’t begin until Christmas Eve. However, the ways that the men said they would cut down at Christmas were by sending fewer cards, (half of them wouldn’t send any cards at all in fact), by giving fewer presents and by having much simpler food. They wouldn’t be cooking turkey, for a start! A fifth said they would cook steak and chips for the family; another fifth said they would order in the food from a takeaway. And two-fifths said they would spend far less time with their in-laws.
School children were also surveyed. They too were worried about the cost of Christmas, and whether their parents w…

Remembering the School Nativity Play

Luke 2.1-7
Have you been in any Christmas plays at school? If so, what part did you get to play?

I was once a shepherd, a part I remember because the headmistress lent me a valuable family heirloom - a pottery hot water bottle - which she thought would be an impressive prop that would make me look more authentic. She told me it was a special privilege to borrow such a precious thing, but she was letting me have it because I was such a good boy and could be trusted with it. Unfortunately, I was carrying it by a string fastened round the neck of the bottle. The string snapped during the dress rehearsal and - to my horror - the bottle smashed to pieces on the wooden floor. The headmistress lost her temper and shouted at me that I had been careless, so I thought it was in big trouble, but when she calmed down she said she was sorry and that it wasn’t me fault. Phew!

Another year it felt much safer to be a wiseman and read my own poem about the gift I had brought for the Baby Jes…

Hope in a Time of Looming Crisis

Isaiah 40.1-11
Mark 1.1-8
We were watching the news on Channel 4 the other night when Helen said, ‘The news is so terrible these days that you really don’t have time to take in the enormity of it before they’ve moved on to the next item.’

For example, there was a report that high inflation, government cuts and the longest period of wage stagnation on record will mean that the spending power of the average British family is going to plummet over the next five years. And families with children will be particularly hard hit. In 2016 they will be worse off than they might have been if their children had been exactly the same age 14 years earlier in 2002.

Mind you, it’s not just younger people who are feeling the pinch. As Jeremy Clarkson might have said, public sector workers should perhaps spare a thought for those of us who don’t already enjoy their fairly generous pension arrangements. An announcement in George Osbourne’s autumn statement on Tuesday changed my retirement dat…

A Christmas Story

Mark 1.1-3
Christmas was approaching and the whole family was looking forward to the holiday - the food, the presents, the decorations, playing games round a blazing log fire. But everyone agreed that Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if they couldn’t attend the Christmas Eve service in the little church down in the valley.

‘I hope it doesn’t snow,’ said Mum. ‘If it snows we won’t be able to go.’

‘Oh, why not?’ asked the Twins. ‘Couldn’t we ski?’ asked Johnny. ‘Couldn’t we go by sledge?’ asked Jenny.

‘Well,’ said Dad, ‘We could only ski if we had any skis. And we could go by sledge down the hill, but then we would have to pull it back up the hill through the snow at one o’clock in the morning.’

So everyone agreed that if it snowed heavily they would have to stay at home, even on Christmas Eve, in their farmhouse high on the hillside.

‘That means we would miss the service where we celebrate the coming of Jesus,’ said Mum. ‘Somehow it won’t feel like Christmas if we can’t be there.’

Th…