Category Archives: Christmas

A Time of Hope and Joy

This morning I was in total Bah Humbug mood. I am full of cold and could really do with some time to take myself away from everybody and everything and just rest it off. But that’s not how these things work Christmas is a time to be social, that’s after I’ve gotten all through the more important things I need to get done this week. Don’t get me wrong I’m not against the idea of being sociable I am really looking forward to spending a few days with Third Party, and having some quality time with Karl and seeing other relatives and friends…’s just I’m not really in the mood right now. I’m in that place when I could quite happily have one of my “I don’t do Christmas” unsociable Yuletides.

This then was the place I was in when I sat down to write my sermon for Sunday afternoon, a sermon I’d been wrestling with and getting more stuck with for the last few days. I was praying for inspiration but it was from a definite bah humbug place.

There was a ray of hope in terms of breaking through the barrier and that was Canon David Winter’s thought for the month in the Door, the Oxford Diocese newspaper, which I’d happened to have picked up on Sunday. It focused around Luke 1:44 which was rather handy because the passage I was dealing with was that verse and those around it. Winter focused on these two women and their experience. It gave me a starting point.

And so I ploughed on from talking about how they met and how they expressed themselves after being filled by the Spirit and by the end I had got to talking about the way Christmas is still a time for hope and joy.

As I reflected on what I’d written I felt a bit like I’d been slapped round the face with a wet kipper. I do cynical quite easily especially at Christmas but hope and joy..well that’s a different matter.

Now I have to be honest, and if you’ve read a few of the blog entries I’ve written with a more religious theme this month you’ll probably be aware, hope has been an ongoing thing with me this Advent. It keeps jumping up and grabbing me by the throat…cynicism can’t win, hope has to shine through.

As I say today joy came and joined the party…Christmas is a time for hope and joy that comes not out of some easy fantasy but out of the reality of faith within complicated lived experience. It’s not I have discovered, as I have had God speak to me through my sermon as I wrote it, something which is simply saying “don’t let the bastards get you down” but it is deeper and richer than that. (And don’t worry, that’s not within my sermon, it’s just my reflection now). It’s something which comes from knowing the reality of Christ within the wider story of history holding on to what is to come as well as what has been and indeed what currently is.

So this Christmas I wish you tidings of hope and of joy whatever the reality of the Christmas you are facing this year.

Counting Down – Shorts

Towards the end of this year I have discovered short films (or in truth probably rediscovered them). The adventure began when I went to the ICMK event at the MK Gallery which is a space I’ve also grown to love over the last few months.

I’ve posted the links to a few on here previously, amongst them Suzanna Raymond’s work Shadows. Suzanna is a fine art student whose films give a different way of looking at the city. Within her films she invites you to engage with the local environment in a way which gives goes beyond a simple visual representation and on this basis I would argue what she is doing certainly intersects with psychogeography even if that term does not fully describe what she is doing. For an interesting take on psychogeography I invite you to listen to John Davies’ 2008 Greenbelt talk Walking with the Psychogeographers.

She Said Lenny which was directed by Jim Donovan and Who the Hell is Alice from the Penkat Studio are two interesting and funny shorts about dating which are both worth a look.

The most recent bunch of shorts I’ve discovered have been related to The Nativity Factor which it appears is a competition designed to get people to present the nativity in the most imaginative way possible. Within the adult section two entries compliment each other really well. They both give contemporary interpretations of Jesus’ parents discovering about the pregnancy. The Applecart entry Gabriel’s Visit looks at the event from Mary’s point of view whilst No Pressurefrom 4six3 looks at it from Joseph’s  perspective.

If you like any of the above you might also be interested in a new Advent exhibition which is travelling around MK this week with a different work each day. Whilst having looked at the site I don’t think it will be containing any shorts the website for the exhibition contains an animated one about Christmas from Dan Stevers. The exhibition is called

Coming Home

A few days ago I wrote on my Facebook status “Tractor Girl is not sure if she is going “home” on Friday. Well, now I’ve arrived I am sure, I have come home on fleeting Christmas visit.

Coming home means being welcomed at the station

Coming home means a succession of hugs from your “family”, old and young alike

Coming home means endless food and drink, but somehow all in moderation

Coming home means nobody minds if you want to dive into a pile of old magazines to find the useful articles

Coming home means being asked to do one of the readings at the carol service

Coming home means bumping into your daughter in a ridiculously small sized New Look and needing to buy her something smart so she can support her best friend at a funeral

Coming home means you are given free access to the computer before church, as long as you don’t download a virus.

Coming home means that there is a part left open for Third Party in the youth group drama

Coming home means everybody sharing their news

Coming home means you’re totally honest when asked how it’s going

Coming home means in one way you are treated like a guest but you are also allowed to totally relax as part of the furniture who people don’t need to fuss for

Coming home means you know that you are loved

Coming home here, now, feels like I have regained part of what I lost when my grandma passed away. It’s a different place and different set of “family” but the feeling of total love and security is the same. I have come home!!!

Happy Holidays and a social whirl

This time of year is intended, I think, to develop ones time management skills. The undergrads and MA students seem to have a list of deadlines to contend with and even those of us without formal end of term deadlines are trying to get lots of work done in between socialising and preparing for Christmas.

Saturday was an enlightening experience for both Third Party and myself. Her social whirl included going to listen to a friends violin recital before heading off to do caroling in an old peeps home and then onto a Ceilidh. Nothing remarkable here, except one has to remember Third Party is not exactly “that” type of young person. It really illustrated to me the way her world has had to change with the move, and how out of her comfort zone she might be up here.

Meanwhile, I was working hard but then took a break to head downstairs to our buildings common room for the party down there. Food was v.g, although completely unseasonal. They had got in a caterer that did halal meat and so the menu for the buffet can best be described as ethnic. I did manage to find some rice which only had bits of spagetti in it and some unspiced meat and so managed sort of. This was mixed with Santa coming in to hand some ickle prezzies out to the kids who had an interesting assortment of names, reflecting the truly international nature of the building I live in.

Then yesterday evening it was off to the pub with Meth Soc for a much more traditional meal. Have to say was an excellent meal at a v.g. price and was a v. pleasant evening.