Merry Christmas

Time to sign off and put the blog in the cupboard until the New Year when no doubt I’ll retrieve it and be putting finger(s) to keyboard once more, thus adding to the weight of html coursing through the blogosphere. Five and a half years on and I still love blogging ….. especially the contact, learning and fun that arises from the dialogue. I do Twitter but have not made it into the league of the Twitterati, nor wanted to; Quite like Facebook, but blogging is still where my heart is. Not that I’m turning into a Ludite (I hope), as I’m quite chuffed to have set up ‘Kindle’ on my phone today and grabbed a copy of NT Wright “Surprised by Hope!” to electronically ingest. (Talking of technology, if you haven’t caught up with Ronnie Corbet’s take on technology, have a look)
I know what your thinking though?*
If you like blogging so much, explain the last two weeks!
Well, truth is that Jo has not been so well which has kept me busy, but probably more than that I’ve really been missing my dad and have found it difficult to sit down and write. Odd things like it being the first Christmas I can ever remember where I haven’t gone to buy a packet of ‘Licqourice Allsorts’ for my dad have affected me deeply. Grief is an odd thing, it doesn’t pounce any more though, it just kind of arises somewhere as a small speck of sadness and expands gently until you become aware of it’s presence.
I am however thoroughly looking forward to Christmas with my immediate tribe, We have two Christmas trees up in our Lounge and I shall enjoy a dram or two of Malt with the mellow and cheerful light they create. The festivities will commence tomorrow with the annual showing of “Muppet Christmas Carol” and flow from there. I am going to especially enjoy the Midnight service which will feel really ‘right’ this year with snow laying round about, deep and crisp and even**
I wish you every blessing my fine friends for this most magical time of year.
Let wonder, love and hope reign supreme.
christmas_tree_presents_lg_clr.gif “O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel “


* not really, that would be too weird
** at least the bits that aren’t black or worse, yellow

Whitemare before Christmas

ht to todays’ Sun Newspaper for the punning headline (I think ‘Whitemare’ might actually make it into general use) on this bitterly cold morning. Parts of the Diocese came close to minus 20 degrees last night which is really really extreme for the South, a relatively balmy minus 6 in Newbury by comparison.
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I’m heading up to the office in a while but watching the forecasts carefully for the return trip, there is snow forecast for south of the Ridgeway today and such is the traffic volume on the A34 that any incident can transform the dual carriage way to little more than a car park. (As it did over the weekend with a 5hr delay Oxford to M40 on Sunday)
My sympathy to all who are stuck at home, airports or out on the roads.
Captain’s Log Supplemental:
Car wouldn’t start, the battery was almost completely dead. Managed to jump start it and head up to Oxford. Once over the Ridgeway the temperature dropped majorly and the side roads looked increasingly grim. The A34 kept moving though with occasional patches of snow and ice intruding into one lane. When I came to turn off for Church House though it was truly scary and the entire slip road was snow and ice (with an outside temp of minus 10). I had a lorry behind me so was trying to work out how much I could safely slow up before committing the tyres to the slip road. Managed not to collect a lorry in the bumper and to not spin off on the exit, however the Church House Car Park was all snow and ice. I could not get any traction AND every time I tried the car stalled and it wouldn’t restart … necessitating a Jump start. Eventually gave up slithered back onto the A34 (even scarier moment) and headed south. Currently at ATS in Newbury waiting for a new battery to be fitted.

Ski Preacher’s (re)quest

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I’m trying to get my head around the ski trip and particularly the evening ‘services!’ I am tasked with doing a ‘talk’ each night (although I’m more of a sit on the table and converse sort of a preacher), but am currently stumped as to the ‘what to explore’
My journal is stuffed full of ideas, themes, chunks of scripture and the like, all of which are currently engaging me. Even so I cannot pin down a theme or framework.
Ideally I want a coherent series where each ‘talk’ is so clearly themed that people can input into it that day (an attempt at ‘open sourcing’ the sermon) and makes for a useful, intelligent, reflective and real session that evening.
On the basis that lots of heads are better than one (particularly in this case) I’m opening it up to your communal creative genius ……..

Advent reflection

This reflection comes from Bishop Porter Taylor from the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina.
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“I finally got into the garage attic and began decorating the house. No Christmas tree yet, but some cards and candles and a wonderful crèche scene by the Sewanee artist, Barbara Hughes. While the shepherds and animals are all around the manger, the baby isn’t there yet. He is travelling. In truth, I am not there yet, but I am asking for God’s grace to help me start the journey. Advent is such a holy season because it reminds us that much of the time our vocation as Christians is to move our feet in faith.
The journey is hard because it’s not about our being in control. Joseph and Mary have no GPS; they have no guides; they aren’t Silver Preferred travellers. They are walking in the dark guided by the stars. They are moving towards the birth that has been promised. They do not know how everything is going to work, they just know the next step. They just hold onto God’s promises because their faith is in God not their understanding. I keep coming back to this Advent journey and our walk of faith, and I know that this walk is always about surrender.
At some point we hand everything over to God. That is to say, I don’t think our deepest need is for new programs or new information or new technology. All of those are useful. However, our deepest need is to remember who God is. Then we can ask ourselves where we are called to go and move.
These recollections orient our lives and clarify our priorities. In addition, they remind us that we only come closer to the divine reality as we let go of our death grip on our life. In the 2nd Letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, “For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.” As our false self is put to death, Christ himself shines through our ordinary lives.
That is our Advent journey. We travel towards Christ and we travel deeper into being Christ like. The birth is not merely a historical event but an ongoing transformation in all those who give their lives to Christ. This is our journey. It’s time. Let’s us go to Bethlehem”