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Archive for December, 2008

In the interests of wrapping up this year, here are some moments of my 2008, it’s been a weird year, so much change, which I’m still attempting to work through in my head, but there have been some beautiful moments within the strangeness. Here are a few:

Click away to see in full detail. They are scenes from the last year.

Me, Anna and Sarah all turned 30 this year and joyous celebrations resulted. Snow at Fallowfield was unusual. A teapot was given to me from students I had worked with and the sun set on my job with UCCF. Moving twice in one year is not to be recommended. New paths, new church, a new way to live and the pain and wonder of it all. Leaving lovely housemates was ridiculously hard, tea at the Grand Hotel in Brighton was the setting for some good final times together. No year would be complete without a visit to the Lakes and a lush holiday in France provided me with the much lacking sun in the summer. I discovered I’m going to be an Auntie, cue much excitement in the Arnold family.

The final picture is that of a winter tree. They look dead and empty at this time of year, stark against the winter sky. I’m coming to the end of the year feeling a bit like one of those trees, not sure of so many things, battered around by all the change, glad of so many things, weirded out by so many things. The good thing about winter trees is that they aren’t dead. I trust and hope that there will be blossom to come and full green lushous leaves to grow. I trust and hope that there will be fruit ahead even though I can’t see it right now. I trust and I hope that there is One bigger than me who knows what is going on and can turn my dark dry branches into beautiful fruit.

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I’ve been re-reading my old Christmas blog posts (it’s Christmas eve in the office ok, there is nothing else to do..).  It’s been a tour down memory lane, of remembering things that once were, good times had and all the ways God uses this time of year to step into my hard stubborn old heart and soften me to the wonder of Him.

Last night in our house was no exception to this theme. We had house Christmas, lots of presents, Larry’s amazing roast dinner, Kevin’s slightly scary present he got from his secret Santa at work and lots of fun and wine. Half way through we put down our knives and forks and read out John 1 in four different versions of the Bible. (even I can’t call the word on the street a translation 🙂  What stuck out like a large neon sign in my heart was the middle bit, where it says He came to his own and they did not recognise Him, He came to the ones He spoke into being and they turned away from Him. Heart wrenching, soul gutting stuff. How stupid and yet a perfect description of our messed up lives. Rejecting the One who called us into being, turning from the spring of living water and prefering the darkness.

And yet He came. Residing with us. Emmanuel, the word guarateed to sweep through my dark hard heart full of jealously, pride and bitterness. The word that is stamped all the way down to the scum at the bottom of the pit I attempt to hide from all.  Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus come to earth.

Jesus has come and Jesus is the name that calms our fears, Jesus is God with us, Jesus the Light, the Word, the Hope of all, Jesus is my friend, my Lord, Jesus is the one who leads me to my Daddy, Jesus is the one who sees through my pretences, my lies, my hopes, my fears, my joys and is my peace. That’s what had me in tears once again last night as we cried out to Him in gratitude, sorrow, awe and joy.

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And look here, because I’m too lazy to write the comment myself.

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It seems Sunday will be crying day from now on. This week I alarmed the preacher at our church by pretty much crying through most of his sermon. Well, he shouldn’t have been saying things like: “Immanuel, means God is with us. He is with us” over and over again. Or “God is really for us, he really is right with us”.  The repetition is what my thick skull needs right now.  Christmas, more than any other time of the year reminds me so much of the reality that God came down to earth. The Maker mixed it up with His creation.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve just come out of seven years in a Christian Bubble. No longer am I surrounded by people who live with the knowledge that there is a God, that he really loves us and did everything to get back into relationship with us. It’s a good thing that I’m having to figure out and wonder if I believe because everyone else around me does. My personality is such that I easily go along with the general mood of the room I’m in at the time. Not such a good tactic when it comes to the fundamental realities of life. It’s hard to keep on believing when all around don’t. Just as it would be hard to not believe in a room full of people who all believe the same things as I do. I struggle with doubt and unbelief. But I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t.

As ever the only thing that really helps is another dose of reminder of what God is really like. That He is good, and that for some reason best known to Him, he really loves me. He really has taken my accusers away and He stepped into the mess of this world. The Word became Flesh. That’s what makes me cry on this dark winters day. Light stepped in and the darkness did not understand/overcome/consume it.

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This is going to be brilliant. Can’t wait.

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Today it was Kevin’s talk on the Virgin Birth. On why this matters so much. God coming to earth as a baby. God growing up with us. The seemingly impossible possible. God come to be with us. That means He cares. That means that all our random day to day routines and work lives matter to him. Jesus spent 15 years being a carpenter before he did anything else. He knows about the routine of work, he knows about being tired and sad. He knows about our situations. He has been here. The God of the heavens and the earth is so much more wonderful and strange than we give him credit for. The God of the universe didn’t abandon his creation. He stepped into the mess and did something about it.

That’s why tonight I fight the Sunday evening blues, the feeling that I must get the week of work over to get to the weekend. I fight it because tomorrow there is purpose and meaning in each moment. Tomorrow there is new mercy. Tonight as I sleep God stays awake, watching, doing things, getting up to stuff, and tomorrow morning we will wake up into a world where He is active and alive. Tomorrow is a day alive with possibility and opportunity. For some of us it needs to be endured and survived but it is not random or pointless, it will not be a waste of time. There is splendor in the ordinary of our lives. God cares about the to do list on my desk at work. Weird eh.

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Bliss.

This has nothing to do with Advent at all, it’s just one of the most beautiful songs sung by a man with one of the most beautiful voices. It might even rival the original. Martyn Joseph’s voice is … many things I can’t describe.  Enjoy.

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