Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from all at Seal - and a story for Christmas Day

A story for Christmas day, told at this morning's Christmas Communion.
My own re-telling of a traditional Breton tale.

There was once an orphan boy called Bo, who lived in St Malo, on the Northern coast of Brittany. He’d been abandoned as a baby, and brought up by an old shipbuilder, who took him on as his apprentice as soon as Bo could hold a hammer and chisel. He wasn’t a kind or generous employer though, and made Bo sleep in a shed on a straw mattress. Often he went hungry and when the winter came he was always cold.  

As Bo had grown up, it was clear that all was not well with him. His back was twisted and bent, and Bo couldn’t run like the other boys. People can be cruel and often they would laugh at Bo and bully him. They called him Bo Bossu, Bo the hunchback, and no one wanted to be his friend
Despite this, Bo turned out to be very skilful with his hands. By the time he was a teenager no one could carve like him. He was especially good at carving the great curved prows of ships with their elaborate figureheads.

Bo took pride in his work, but he was often lonely, but he took great comfort in visiting the great granite cathedral of St Malo, and he was often to be found there, sitting in the stillness, or praying before a statue of the Virgin Mary. She was his mother, and Jesus was his brother, and when he was there he felt at home, knowing he was loved and welcomed by God.

One day as he knelt praying, he had an idea. Every Christmas in the Cathedral they would set up  a big nativity scene, with carved figures of Mary and Joseph, shepherds and wise men, oxen and donkeys, and in the centre, the baby Jesus, lying in his manger crib in the stable. A curtain would hang across the stable, and as the service started it would be pulled aside to reveal the scene.  . But it had always seemed to Bo that the crib in which they laid the child was a poor, rough thing. It looked odd and out of place amid all the other fine carving. So Bo decided he would make a new crib for Jesus – it would be a secret from everyone else. His gift to Mary and Jesus. He decided that he would make it in the shape of a little ship, and on each end he would make a curved prow, adorned with an angel.
He looked up at the statue of Mary and made a solemn promise to her that the coming Christmas he would give her a beautiful crib for her son to sleep in.

He went home full of joy and began collecting little off cuts of wood, which he hid under his straw mattress.  Whenever he had a spare moment he would work on the crib and gradually it began to take shape. It was slow work though, because Bo was kept very busy, making ships for his master. He would rise early in the morning to work on it, and carry on after work as long as there was any light to see by.
picture by William Stobbs

It got to the week before Christmas and still the crib wasn’t quite finished, but Bo worked on, determined to keep his promise to the Virgin Mary. But then disaster struck. An order came in for a new ship for the fishing fleet of a wealthy local man. He wanted it ready as soon as possible, so it could sail with the rest of his ships in the New Year. Everyone in the shipyard was ordered to work all the hours there were to get it ready, and by the time their daily work was finished, there was no daylight left for Bo to work on the crib, even if there had been light, he was so tired that he would fall exhausted onto his straw mattress straightaway. 

Christmas Eve came and still Bo hadn’t finished the crib. At the end of the day, the other apprentices has gone to prepare for the feast of Christmas, but Bo sat alone in his shed. He looked sadly at the crib. There was no way he could get it finished now. All it needed was some work on one of the angels and to be smoothed and polished, but he knew he could not do the work in time, and there was no light left to work by. Bo felt the tears come to his eyes and fall on the rough wood. “Holy Mother “ he cried, “ I so wanted to give you this gift, but I have done what I can, and it isn’t enough, and I can do no more!” But then he heard a voice.

“Bo, can I help to finish the crib?” Bo lifted his head, and there, standing beside the little ship was a boy around his own age, a boy with a kind face who looked strangely familiar, and yet Bo was sure he’d never met him before.
“You are tired, Bo.” said the boy, “Give me the chisel and I will finish it for you.”
“Can you carve?” asked Bo. “And will you have enough light to see by?”
“Oh, yes, I am apprentice carpenter too, just like you, “ he said, “ I work for my father, and I will have plenty enough light.” And it did seem to Bo that there was a light around him, though he couldn’t see where it came from.
So Bo handed him his chisel, and lay down, intending to take just a short nap.

When he woke up, though, it was morning, full daylight, and the cathedral bells were already ringing to announce that worship would soon begin.
Bo sat up with a start. He would be too late after all. And what about the crib? Surely it could not be finished. But there it stood, with the boy carpenter standing beside it, smiling at Bo. And it was beautiful. Somehow the angels on its curved ends almost seemed to be singing for joy, they were so real.

“Oh! It is wonderful!” said Bo. “But we will be too late! The service is about to start!”
“We can carry it together – there is just time” said the boy.
So they picked up one end each and they hurried through the streets towards the cathedral. They slipped in through a side door, and came around the back of the stable scene. No one noticed them as they carried the crib in behind the curtain.
Bo took the carved baby out of the old crib and laid him in the fine new one,  and as he did so Bo fell to his knees in wonder, because it seemed to him as if the child in the crib – the carved wooden baby – smiled up at him, and as he looked into the face of his mother, she smiled too.

Just at that moment the curtain was pulled aside, and the crowd who had gathered for this moment gasped in wonder. They gasped to see the beautiful new crib. But they gasped too to see Bo there, kneeling in the straw, and they knew then who it was who had had the idea to make this crib. Who else could have carved such a fine little ship to bear the Christ Child? And it was strange ; it was the same Bo they had always known, and yet, as he got up, didn’t he seem to stand straighter and taller and stronger than they had known? It seemed to them that he did, and whatever had happened, they knew that they would never call him names or bully him again.

Bo looked around, wanting to tell them of the mysterious boy who had helped him, but he was nowhere to be seen.  Then, lifting his head, he caught sight, high in the roof above him of a small carving of Joseph, in his carpenter’s shop, and by his side his young apprentice, Jesus himself, with a chisel in his hand, and the kindest of kind smiles on his face.

And suddenly Bo knew who it was had come to him when he had done all he could, and it wasn’t enough, and he could do no more. It was the same Christ who comes to us when we have done all we can, and it isn’t enough and we can do no more.


Anne Le Bas Christmas 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Home for Christmas? 24

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us

(I hope everyone has come through the storm last night safely - perhaps it makes the latter part of this post especially relevant. Just imagine having no home in all the rain and wind we had here in Kent last night.)

Today we come to the end of our Advent exploration of what it means to be at home, to travel home, to make a home for ourselves and others, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, who is our home and our welcome. As this poem by George Herbert reminds us, the essence of home is love, and where love is, there is God.

LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
      Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
      From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning         5
      If I lack'd anything.
'A guest,' I answer'd, 'worthy to be here:'
     Love said, 'You shall be he.'
'I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
      I cannot look on Thee.'  10
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
      'Who made the eyes but I?'
'Truth, Lord; but I have marr'd them: let my shame
      Go where it doth deserve.'
'And know you not,' says Love, 'Who bore the blame?'  15
      'My dear, then I will serve.'
'You must sit down,' says Love, 'and taste my meat.'
      So I did sit and eat.
George Herbert. 1593–1632

As you listen to John Tavener's setting of this poem, you can read about and pray for the work of Crisis (below) . Over the coming days Crisis will be inviting many guests to "sit and eat", giving them at least a little of the sense of being "at home" that so many of us take for granted.

Ben’s story

When you’re homeless, Christmas can be the toughest time of all for someone like Ben, for him Crisis at Christmas was a lifesaver. The odds were stacked against him from the start. He was shunted from foster home to care home and then went from one insecure job to the next – until, aged just 27, he found himself on the street last winter.
“The cold just sinks into you,” he remembers. “I was struggling even to walk. My body was proper giving up on me.”
On Christmas Eve, Ben met someone who told him about Crisis at Christmas. Your gift could give someone like Ben the warmest welcome they could hope for, a hearty Christmas dinner, good company and friendly faces, and the chance to take advantage of a whole range of services to help with housing, gaining skills and finding work.
“I wouldn’t have had a Christmas if it wasn’t for Crisis.”
Please reserve a place for someone like Ben. Thank you.

- See more at:
One place at Crisis at Christmas provides...
  • welcoming support from people who really care
  • three nutritious, hot meals including Christmas dinner
  • the chance to shower and change clothes, have a haircut and get a health check
  • expert advice on life-changing issues like housing and employment
  • an introduction to Crisis year-round services for training and support for the future
It’s a gift that always changes lives, and often saves them
Please reserve as many places as you can this year
- See more at:

Monday, December 23, 2013

A lovely carol service

Many thanks to all who helped put on such a great carol service last night, especially to the choir, to Stephen, our organist, and to my lovely husband, Philip, who rehearsed the choir and conducted on the night - it was really great and lots of people commented on how cheerful the music was. Thanks to to the readers, the sidespeople, who welcomed everyone so warmly, as always, and to those who provided refreshments before the service for the choir and after it for the congregation. A great time was had by all.

Home for Christmas? 23

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us

We often skate over the end of Matthew's version of the nativity story. It doesn't fit with our cosy view of Christmas. He wanted, though, to emphasize that right from the start this child was in danger, and that his coming brought trouble and pain in its wake because of the implicit challenge to the corrupt powers that ruled his world.

Jesus and his parents become refugees in Egypt, and the fury of Herod is unleashed on many other children in Bethlehem. It is an old story, but a modern one too. Innocent children the world over suffer at the hands of despots who cannot bear to lose the power that is all that makes them feel worthwhile. It is tempting to feel that perhaps it would have been better to leave things as they were - Jesus' birth stirred up a hornets' nest. But ultimately "peace" which is simply collusion and compromise is no peace at all.
The "home" for humanity which God builds through Jesus life and ministry is one which is built on truth. In the end, too, this child does not escape the wrath of another Herod (this king's son) and the might of the Romans who support him when he dies on the cross.

  • Have you ever had to take a stand on something, knowing that if you did so it would lead to trouble and suffering for yourself or others?
  • Were you tempted not to?

Matthew 2 13-23
Now after the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: 

‘A voice was heard in Ramah,
   wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
   she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’

 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He will be called a Nazorean.’ 

Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love's sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love's sake becomes poor.

Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love's sake becamest man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenwards by thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love's sake becamest man.

Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.


Frank Houghton (1894-1972)

For more about the background to this lovely hymn, written by a missionary bishop to China in difficult times, see here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Home for Christmas? 22

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us

Matthew's account of the birth of Christ has no manger in Bethlehem, and no shepherds, but it points just as much to the way the adult Jesus gave a welcome and a home to all who came to him. The "wise men", probably members of the Zorastrian faith of Mesopotamia, were drawn to Jesus from afar. They came from a completely different culture and religion, and yet found that there was room, and a welcome, for them in Jesus' presence. Having given their gifts to him, they go home "by another way". They go back into their own culture and faith, but the implication is that they are changed people, with a larger vision of the love of God than they came with.

Matthew 2.1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 
“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
   are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
   who is to shepherd my people Israel.” 
 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
  • Have there been times when your view of God or of your faith has been challenged? Has it always felt like "home" or has it sometimes felt like a foreign territory, a land where you have felt like an outsider?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Home for Christmas? 21

The word became flesh and dwelt among us

The shepherds in the Christmas story were out on the hillside. They were probably living in temporary shelters, wherever they could find pasture for the sheep, as many shepherds across the world still do today. They were there because the flock needed guarding against the dangers of wild animals and bandits who might steal them. They were, therefore, at risk themselves, and probably sometimes in danger. No doubt they sometimes longed for the comfort of their own beds in their own homes, with their own families, especially in the small hours of a long night. 

The last thing they expected was to be the ones to receive the news that the Messiah had been born. The angels come to them, where they are, in the middle of nowhere very important in the world's eyes. Heaven comes home to earth, even on this cold, dark hillside. 

Luke 2. 8-20

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’
 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

  • Have you ever "kept watch" by night - worked the night shift, sat with a sick relative or a tiny baby? What is it like to be up in the middle of the night?
  • Here is a prayer you might like to say as night falls.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who wake,
or watch or weep this night,
give your angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend the sick, give rest to the weary,
sustain the dying, calm the suffering,
and pity the distressed; all for your love’s sake,
O Christ our Redeemer. Amen

We stood on the hills, Lady,

Our day’s work done,
Watching the frosted meadows
That winter had won.

The evening was calm, Lady, 
The air so still, 
Silence more lovely than music 
Folded the hill.

There was a star, Lady,
Shone in the night,
Larger than Venus it was
And bright, so bright.

Oh, a voice from the sky, Lady,
It seemed to us then
Telling of God being born
In the world of men.

And so we have come, Lady,
Our day’s work done,
Our love, our hopes, ourselves,
We give to your son.

Composer: Bob Chilcott (b. 1956)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Home for Christmas? 20

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us

Luke 2.1-7

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

At the heart of the Christmas story is a family for whom there is no room. Their child must lie in an animal's feeding trough. We don't know how much historical truth there is in Luke's account of Jesus' birth - there is certainly no record of a census like that he describes - but the stories of the birth of people who later become great were often intended more to signpost the themes of their later lives than to give an accurate picture. Luke would probably have known people who had met Jesus and could bear witness to the kind of person he was. His account of the birth of Jesus points to the way in which, as an adult gave especial priority to those who were in some way outsiders, treated as superfluous to the world's requirements, people for whom there was also "no place". 

The tenderness evoked in us by this story of a vulnerable baby born in a cold and indifferent world is a reminder of God's love for those who are vulnerable in our world today, including ourselves, and his call to us to love the vulnerable too.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Home for Christmas? 19

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us

The central and most wonderful claim of Christian faith is that, somehow, in Jesus, God became present and visible in the world. It does not claim that God was not in his world before Jesus, but that he revealed God's presence in a new way which transformed the lives of those who encountered Jesus. They realised that even in a carpenter from Nazareth, even on the cross, God was present. 

John 1.1-14
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.
 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

  • As you go through this day (or look back on this day) be aware of the "holy moments" within it -the moments when there was an opportunity to love and be loved, moments when there were chances of healing and reconciliation. Where will you find God (or did you find God) in this day?

Joan Osborne's song, "What if God was one of us?" asks a question which Christians would want to answer with the words "He was, and he is"
Whoever we are and whatever our lives are like God is with us. We are not alone. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Home for Christmas? 18

Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven

Many people do not have anywhere to call home in this world. They have had to leave their own countries and seek asylum and shelter elsewhere. The Refugee Council works on their behalf.

Esther's Story

Esther, East Africa

I came to the attention of the Refugee Council in 2003 when I was an unaccompanied minor at the age of fifteen. I was trafficked to the country for domestic servitude and locked in a house for five month. I escaped and I was taken to the police by stranger. At the time I was new to the country, had no family or friends and spoke very little English.

Refugee Council allocated a key worker for me that helped me to find a solicitor and introduced me to a youth club run every Tuesday, to help me make friends and feel as part of a community. Some of the friends I met in the youth club have continued to be my friends and even my best friend whom I am a godmother to her son. They also referred me to summer school where I could learn English and mathematics. This helped me to build my confidence and improve my spoken and written language.

The key worker I was given helped me with helped me with my asylum application and went with me to the Home Office for my first screening, and appointments that followed in preparation for my statement for my case. I was given leave to remain until the age of eighteen. In 2005 I made an application to the home office to extend my leave and they wrote to me informing me that my case had been transferred to Legacy.
In 2009 I was facing destitution after social services demanded I provide them an up to date document showing what my status was, as I had not heard anything from the home office.  I contacted the Refugee Council for advice and they referred me to a legal firm who helped to me write to the Home Office for update. The outcome was successful as the Home Office replied to say they were still processing my case and that they would solve it soon.

My case went to court in 2012 and I had a positive decision after waiting for seven years for a decision from the Home Office. Now that I have status I can start building my life in the UK and begin healing from the traumatic experience I went through in my country and here in the UK.
Refugee Council have been very helpful to me. I don’t know what I would have done without the support I received from the Refugee Council for number of years.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Wreath making

Many thanks to the events committee for organising a very successful Christmas Wreath Making session in the church hall a few weeks ago. A great time was had by all as they learned from our flower arrangers, Maggie and Chris how to put together some really impressive looking wreaths for their front doors.

Home for Christmas? 17

Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven

John 14.1-6
Jesus said: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

On the night before he dies, Jesus promises his disciples that he is simply going ahead of them to prepare a place, as a servant might do ahead of the visit of an important person to make sure there was somewhere for them to stay. 

He has shown them the way to the home God is giving them by the way he has lived his life. If they love as he has loved, they will find that they are at home and at peace whatever happens to them, and that he will be with them and they with him.

In West Side story two lovers from opposing families imagine a place where they can be together. Such a place would be very different from the place they now inhabit, a world riven with gang-warfare. The story, based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, ends in tragedy, but the song is a reminder that if the world is to be a home for all, then there are changes we all need to make to enable it to be so.

  • What do you think it means to follow Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life? 
  • What is the "Way" of Christ? Is it simply about saying you are a Christian and being baptised? Is it simply going to church? Is it about believing a set of doctrines?
  • How are you walking in the Way of Christ?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Posada progress

Our travelling crib set is making its way around families in the parish, having spent a week or so in Seal School going from class to class. Here it is in the Kent's household, in a very pretty setting. 

Jennifer and Marshall commented : The Posada has completed the journey from the Kent household and makes its journey onward towards Christmas to the next home in the parish.

We enjoyed setting it up and having it here in front of our tree for a couple of nights. It really does provide a window and a valuable time for all ages to focus their thoughts on the real meaning of Christmas; very important in the pre Christmas manic rush.

It is a great idea and I hope others enjoy and appreciate welcoming the Posada into their homes.

Home for Christmas? 16

Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven

2 Corinthians 5. 17-19

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.

There are times when we all know that we need healing and that our world needs healing. There are times when we are painfully aware of how far we feel from being the kind of people we would like to be, how far from home we are. The promise of the Bible is that God can make of us a new creation, making us whole in ourselves and reconciling us to one another. Indeed this is a mark of the way his kingdom is - a place where people can start afresh and be remade.

  • What do you think needs to be made new in your life?
  • Are there people you need to be reconciled with?
This video of R.E.M's song is a reminder of the sense of alienation many people feel sometimes, and some feel often. The truth is that, though we can feel as if we are the only one feeling like this, actually "everybody hurts". When we can accept that we are halfway to making a community where those hurts can be acknowledge and perhaps healed.
If the video below won't play in the blog, try accessing it here on YouTube

"Everybody Hurts"
When your day is long
And the night, the night is yours alone
When you're sure you've had enough
Of this life, well hang on

Don't let yourself go
'Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes

Sometimes everything is wrong
Now it's time to sing along
When your day is night alone (Hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go (Hold on)
If you think you've had too much
Of this life, well hang on

Everybody hurts
Take comfort in your friends
Everybody hurts
Don't throw in your hand, oh no

Don't throw in your hand
If you feel like you're alone
No, no, no, you are not alone

If you're on your own in this life
The days and nights are long
When you think you've had too much of this life to hang on

Well, everybody hurts sometimes
Everybody cries
Everybody hurts sometimes
And everybody hurts sometimes

So hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on
Everybody hurts

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Home for Christmas? 15

Psalm 137

By the rivers of Babylon—
   there we sat down and there we wept
   when we remembered Zion. 
On the willows there
   we hung up our harps. 
For there our captors
   asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
   ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ 

How could we sing the Lord’s song
   in a foreign land? 
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
   let my right hand wither! 
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,
   if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
   above my highest joy. 

This Psalm was written when the people of Israel were in exile in Babylon. They knew that Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonians and they did not know whether they would ever be able to go home. 
The promise of the prophets to them was that God would lead them home eventually.
Isaiah's well known words famously set by Handel in "The Messiah" announces to them that the time has come. His words are echoed in the prophecy of John the Baptist, who announces that Jesus is a new way to God, and that the home God wants to create for all people can be found in him.

"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." Isaiah 40.1-4

Isaiah's well known words famously set by Handel in "The Messiah" announces to them that the time has come. His words are echoed in the prophecy of John the Baptist, who announces that Jesus is a new way to God, and that the home God wants to create for all people can be found in him.

  • Do you think that anything can really change in the world, or in yourself?
  • What encouragement would you need to believe that things could be different?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Decorating the Christmas tree - many thanks!

Many thanks to all who turned up to help decorate the Christmas tree this morning, and to Martin Clews at Stonepitts farm for the tree.

Here is the story of what happened ...

First we put up the tree. It was a fine tree, a mighty tree. Unfortunately... was so big we couldn't get it to stay up, and you needed a machete to get past it to the children's corner. 
So we took it down again...

and sawed a couple of feet off the bottom. (Sorry, Martin... It was a SPECTACULAR tree!)
Then we put it back up again... That's more like it!

As you can see, there was an enthusiastic Advisory Committee on hand as the lights were draped here and there...

But soon everyone was piling in to help.

Everyone enjoyed putting the baubles on. Some people enjoyed it so much that they put them on....
...then took them off again and rolled them right under the tree...oops! they could put them on all over again.

If you missed out on the fun this Saturday, don't worry, there will be another chance to join in  next Saturday, when we will be decorating the rest of the church (9 am onwards). All help welcome. The more the merrier (and the faster we'll get it done!)