Too Early For This?

You may think it’s far too early to hold a Christmas Carol Service on 4th December but think again. Have you seen how busy the high street is already in the run-up towards Christmas? And it’s not even December yet? We’ve had cards on display since the end of September, Christmas songs in the shops since October and TV ads all through November. I think the house church I belong to has chosen the perfect time to remind us what Christmas is all about during the…

CHRISTMAS RUSH

Traffic weaving
Shoppers heaving
Santa leaving
children screaming
mothers scheming 
fathers preening
and the real meaning 
of Christmas  
is forgotten  
in that last mad dash for a bargain

Every year, do you find yourself hoping for a Christmas card from a friend or relative you had a fallout with long ago? I wrote this many years ago as a prayerful wish that I’d receive a card from my estranged brother.

CHRISTMAS TRUCE

Did you hear bells or drumming thunder	
Clapping, ringing through the sky?		
Or choirs of angels trilling chorus	
claiming peace on earth was nigh?		
 
No - neither did I.	
			 
But the clatter from my letterbox
when your card fell to the floor so fast
disguised my breathless rush to unlock
the neglected memories of our past.

This year those words have great potential to come true!

After 18 years of daily prayer for reconciliation with my brother, my Christmas came early this year when we met up for a meal together with our other halves on 15th September. My only regret from that meeting is that we didn’t take a photo to mark the occasion. Too dumbstruck, I guess.

I’d purchased a brick to add to the Wall of Answered Prayer when he’d responded to my initial olive branch letter in January that initiated our meeting so it sort of makes up for the missed photo opportunity.

A great weight has been lifted from us through the act of forgiveness. I’m sure the rest of the family feels lighter too. I’m looking forward to Christmas being different this year. Instead of my usual moping about our separation, I’ll be celebrating the miracle of reconnection.

Have you had any prayers answered this year? Take time to write them down and send to https://www.eternalwall.org.uk/ My personal brick is number 16412 – Reconciliation with an estranged brother. The goal is for one million answered prayers to show a unique aspect of Jesus which will encourage others in their faith journey!

Rev Geoff Bowell from Scarborough Christian Fellowship says in his Christmas flyer: ‘Jesus is the light of the world. Whatever darkness you might be facing this Christmas, Jesus Christ is the light. His love brings healing, His message brings hope, and His death opened for us the way to heaven and peace with God. This Christmas, why not discover the light in the darkness that is Jesus Christ?’

I’d like to share this thought-provoking reflection with you, written by The Late Shirley Waite, a dear friend who passed away on 9.11.2018.

A REFLECTION ON CHRISTMAS TREES

My grandma’s tree came from Woolworths;
Eighteen inches high with a wooden trunk painted brown and a wooden base, painted red.
Each year a few more dark green plastic pine needles remained in the box when, on the Saturday before Christmas, the family gathered to decorate the tree.
Grandma unfolded each battered branch as we children opened the rusty tin storage box and gently unwrapped the hibernating glass ornaments from their newspaper nests.
Mum and aunties checked the thread was secure before hanging each little bird and animal on its own twig.
Paper lanterns we had made at school over the years and carried home to hand over with pride were examined until we had all found our own pencilled names inside. Once they had been admired yet again, we hung them in their designated spaces.
Grandad filled his pools coupon in, shutting out the increasing volume of ‘Do you remember?’ and ‘Careful with that!’ from the adults, as we babbled about what we had written on our letters to Santa, ready to post up the chimney that evening.
Once every ornament had been admired and hung, Grandma opened the shoe box and moved aside the tissue paper. There she was – our fairy; a six-inch plastic doll with a dress cut from an old petticoat, cardboard wings covered in tin foil, a lollipop stick wand with a silver foil star glued to its tip, and a matching crown
Every year Grandma greeted her like an old friend, both of them a little more wrinkled and faded with each year, and tied her to the top of the tree.
Finally, once the room had darkened, the finishing touch was the white wax candles in clip-on metal holders
We formed an admiring group as grandma lit each candle and granddad stood close by with a bucket of water and a Woodbine stuck to his bottom lip.
And once we had all said ‘aaaww!’ the youngest child was lifted up to blow out every candle
before we sat around the table to eat tinned salmon sandwiches and peaches with Carnation milk.

My granddaughter’s tree came from Amazon, in a large flat box with instructions in seventeen languages. It’s a six-footer, assembled in seconds (it says).
Just pull upwards on the branch in the centre and watch it spring to life, already decorated with 200 clear replaceable lights, gold satin ribbons and forty-six non-breakable, co-ordinated ornaments, fifteen velvet poinsettias, and a gold-trimmed bow tree topper.
With a flick of the wrist, it takes over the living room.
Plugged in, it dazzles and distracts all eyes from the TV screen (for at least eight seconds) until they all go back to their iPads and iPhones.
On which they are ordering yet more electronic equipment.
Amazon has replaced Santa Claus, delivering up to midnight on Christmas Eve without the necessity of a mince pie or a sherry.

I stand in the middle – make no judgements –
Looking back to the past, forward to the future, and wonder:
When my granddaughter is my age, will her tree be a hologram designed and decorated by a computer?
Will Christmas dinner be delivered to their door by a drone from ww.worldwidecuisine.com
Will the politically correct brigade have got their way and renamed it Winter Festival?
Will Christ be nothing but a swear word?

What better time than now to make sure you grab the best Christmas gift of all? Google a place of worship near you and join in with the festival of nine lessons and carols that portray the story of the first Christmas. 

Because you’re worth it!

With love for the journey,

Julie

PS Take time out in the Christmas season to rest in silent spaces.

Dear God, help me to find silent spaces.

I say ‘amen’, but I think again, 
and instead of rushing away 
to fill my day with this and that,
I stop. I sit. I wait. I stay.  
I listen to what you have to say
in-between the tick and tock 
of my life’s busy, noisy clock, 
and your voice fills the silent space.

Dear God, help me to be still in silent spaces.

I don’t say ‘Amen’.  I start again 
because I don’t want to rush away
to fill my day with this and that,
I want to stop. To sit. To wait. To stay.  
To listen to what you have to say
in-between the tick and tock 
of my life’s busy, noisy clock 
as your voice fills my silent space.

Dear God, help me to listen in silent spaces.

Dear God, help me to hear you in the sacred silent space.





Published by Julie Fairweather

After being warned never to speak of secrets, the noise of them clattered and crashed inside my head. I wandered through a wilderness of solitude for years, sifting through my silence, seeking a way to release the sickness within. I listened in that place many times and heard my unspoken thoughts groaning; deeper, deeper, deep into a world of unwritten words. Then, in an unexpected moment, I found You there, waiting to welcome me with love, without condition. You bled out the sins of the world and gave my silence a voice so I could tell others that it’s okay to share your secrets sometimes.

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