In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
I have a number of friends across the world where I don’t have a physical address I can send a card. I therefore decided to create an e-card that I could send, and dug out a photo I had taken earlier in the year when there was snow on the ground. I chose this image for a number of reasons. Firstly its got snow on it, but also you can see that it is still snowing. While white Christmas’ in the UK are rare, snow and Christmas always go together on cards. The second reason I chose this photo is for the image of the footprints and the play that I can make on the more famous footprints in the sand message story that is told in churches. (I’ll let you look it up if you don’t know it). For me its a nice way of having the Christian message of Christmas on the e-card.
With just a week left of driving to work I decided it was time to change the CDs in the car. I have a selection of ‘Christmas’ CDs that I play at this time of year. They are not your traditional Christmas music as it isn’t the Christmas pop songs, and generally speaking not the carol’s you’ll hear at church. In stead it is a selection of CD’s released by an Ohio based band that I saw in the UK quite a number of years ago. They are a mix of tales and experiences that people have at Christmas time. There’s a Christian ethos in a lot of their music and if you like what is classed as folky americana music they I would certainly recommend a listen.
With less that two weeks to go until Christmas, the cards from friends are starting to drop though the letterbox. One of todays arrived in a plastic bag with a ‘sorry note’ that it has been rather damaged. Thankfully although the damage was more than half the card combined (the damage at the bottom of the card is harder to see on the photo) I was still able to read the update message from my friend and with some carefully placed sticky tape on the inside it will be presentable. It’s ashame that it happened on this card which has all the correct messages about what Christmas is all about.
I’m a big fan of Christmas cards for a number of reasons. Firstly its nice to have something arrive in the traditional post that isn’t a bill or junk mail. The second is that, especially if you are like me, it’s a chance to send a card that helps remind us all of the reason that Christmas is being celebrated, something that is all too easily forgotten, purposely ignored, or even not known about now-a-days. However I’m going to risk being accused of being a scrooge here by suggesting that having cards “sent” from one’s pets is a step too far. The other way around, especially for loved family pets, especially from younger owners, I can understand. We even bought presents for our dog when I was young. But for me, cards from pets misses the whole point of Christmas and is just a sign of the commercialisation and materialism that dogs (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) Christmas.
This afternoon was spent getting the tree set up now that it has had 24 hours in the house and the branches have settled. I still found a few leaves in the branches, but its such a dense tree towards the bottom it was difficult to find them all. I have a regular set of decorations that I’ve built up over the years and with the exception of a few more commercial options, they are fairly understated decorations using woods, metals and other such natural materials. Even the more commercial ones are there for a reason to reflect or refract the tree lights. Everything seemed to work quite smoothly putting them up with only a few needing to be rearraged to get a sense of balance and the right visual effect. This is probably about as commercial as I get with Christmas as for me it’s about the celebration in 23 days time and what that represents for the world.
Tomorrow is the 1st of December. I haven’t had an advent calendar for a good number of years, instead opting for an advent candle. I like candles anyway, so this seemed like a good option. Normally it’s a much bigger candle that I get, but I was apparently slow in getting to the shops this year and all the chunkier ones were gone. I’ll have to be a lot more careful about not letting it burn down quicker than it should.
It was the local church’s Christmas fair today. Happy to support it I popped along with a couple of clear intentions. One was to get some jigsaws and the other was to enter the tombola and the raffle. With other commitments I had to leave before the raffle was drawn, so have no idea how I may have done in that, but I was quite successful in the tombola with an icing kit, lavender sachets, and some Cornish Fudge Liqueur. I suspect the last of these may get it’s grand opening tonight when I see some friends, but it’s a good selection and I’m happy to have been able to support the local church even if it’s not the one I’m a member of.
While it’s still November and these won’t be used for a while, the Christmas decorations have been taken down from the loft. Part of the reason for this is so that I don’t have to go up into the loft again until they go back up (hopefully). Not all of these will be used, and some of the crates are half empty just because of the shape of some decorations so it’s not quite as many as it looks, but it does mean that I can change the display each year. A lot of it is very understated and traditional as well as for me Christmas is about something far more important than decorations.
I was leading the service at the church I attend again today. It’s something that always takes preparation and I’d had a couple of attempts at the preparation before having something I was happy with. As others have said, it takes a lot of practice to come across naturally when you are standing in front of people. The sermon was on ‘The Good Shepherd’. Not to be confused with Psalm 23 this was the passage in John 10. An illustration used about the type of shepherd really struck home. Unlike most shepherds today where they move the sheep from field to field from the rear of the flock, in Jesus’ time, the sheep would follow the shepherd. They would recognise his voice and follow and trust it. It was a reminder that it is a willing following that takes place, not a forced persuading. It also left me wondering about how much else we misunderstand because of the ‘modern’ eyes we see things through. (PS, I know the picture is not that of a shepherds crook but it’s the closest thing I have that is shaped like one!)