Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas continues


The light shines in the darkness
and the darkness has not overcome it...
The Christ candle continues to burn -
it burns clear in all the demands of life
illuminating the possibility of rest
it burns true in days of confusion
pointing the way to clarity
it burns steadily when all is shifting
alluding to calm in the storm.
Every day becomes a holy day
Lit by God in our midst.
Incarnation - God is with us still

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Because its Christmas...


The waiting is almost over
the tree is trimmed
the parcels wrapped
Food preparations are underway.
For some, this Christmas Eve
brings a rush of activity
to get all the last minute tasks done.
For others, this Christmas Eve
brings a calm approach
as they quietly prepare
to welcome the Christ child again.
And for still others,
this Christmas Eve
brings a desperate struggle
just to survive another day.
Because it's Christmas...
means little to the homeless young woman
sheltering under the railway bridge
trying to keep her Christmas box wrappings dry
so that she can sleep under them another night.
Because it's Christmas...
has no impact
on the heroin addict
wandering the High Street
checking out "opportunities"
for his next fix.
Because it's Christmas...
brings no comfort to the young parent
trying to do the best for their children
while sick with worry
about their partner
off fighting in Afghanistan.
Because it's Christmas...
will not change a thing
unless we allow the baby God
to leave the swaddling behind
Unless we embody Christ 
in our lives
and work to bring peace and hope and light
into all the darkness of today's world,
Because it's Christmas... 
will not change a thing
unless we allow the God of Christmas
to be born in our hearts and lives
this day and every day
Because it's Christmas.
Liz Crumlish December 2011

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas crib

During another excellent school Nativity presentation this morning, I had a moment's panic that the crib had been left behind. It hadn't and, at the right time, it was brought forward for Mary to lay down her baby.
That moment of panic, though, spoke to me of the season of Advent and all the preparation we've tried to build into our lives at home and in worship together. When the Christ child comes, nothing else matters - all that is important is swaddled in a manger - therein lies Christmas.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas Eve Watchnight



Call to worship

Come fresh from your revelry
or your loneliness
to find warmth and fellowship here
as we watch in the darkness
for the dawn of another Christmas
Know that you are welcome
just as you are
The baby who snuck into the stable
slips in here tonight
Can you see him?
Can you feel him?
Sense the beat of the wings of angels
brushing your cheek-
announcing to you this night
as they did 2000 years ago in Bethlehem
the good news
that God lives in love with us.
Liz Crumlish December 2011

Seasonal magic


Four candles are now lit
in our advent ring
Just waiting for the Christ candle
to complete the circle
The longest night
has come and gone
we hurtle on
toward Christmas
When we get there
will it matter
if we've forgotten something?
Will our celebration
be diminished?
And when Christmas day is over
will things be any different?
Or will we simply breathe a sigh
and immediately begin
to whip ourselves up into a frenzy
to get to the end of the year?
Celebrating Christmas
whether well prepared
or weary
provides for us
amazing possibility.
One day in the year
cannot change the world.
But hearts prepared
to welcome
and embrace
the Son of God
and share that Christmas Spirit
will go a long way
to bringing magic
into the season

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

More waiting


The sanctuary is quiet -
recovering from the onslaught
of one school service
getting ready for the next
taking a breather
before the story
is played out 
all over again.
The same old story
told over and over
sometimes to new audiences
sometimes to familiar faces.
But the greatest story ever told
bears repeating
in every time and place
made new 
for every generation.
God dwells among us.



Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Seasonal weariness


Did they weary, those wise men?
Did their steps become slower,
their momentum more forced?
Did the novelty and the wonder
and the excitement
begin to wear thin?
Their journey was long
and drawn out.
It wasn't exuberant and spontaneous
like the shepherds.
Or full of glory
like the angels' song.
Perhaps that is one of the drawbacks
of a period of preparation -
the anticipation mellows,
worn down by the passage of time.
The destination ceases to attract,
lost as it is in the ordinary.
A quest for all of us 
journeying through Advent:
to recover something of the vitality
of the beginning
so that this far on in our travels
we can be refreshed
and rekindled
by a glimpse of the goal.
And our weary steps
take on a sprinkling
that will provide the surge we need
to see it through.
Liz Crumlish December 2011

Monday, 19 December 2011

They followed the star

Girvan Beach November 2011

The star carves out a path
lighting up the way for others
It beckons us to follow
in its wake
to tread the contours marked out
and those we can barely imagine 
It lures us in
out of the shadows
banking on our curiosity
to keep us on the quest
for that sense of promise
and fulfillment 
that can only be sated
by a love
that is out of this world.
Liz Crumlish December 2011

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Nativity



Tea towels that simply won’t stay,
tied on with dressing gown cords,
halos  lopsided or sagging,
slipping down over eyes lit with mirth.
Crowns that are coming unstuck
as the tinfoil decides to unravel,
yet, together creating a scene
of such harmony and tranquillity
that it tugs at the heart strings
and reminds all who look on
of the chaos and the holiness
that unfolded so long ago
in a stable in Bethlehem,
when God was born
in a feeding trough.
Liz Crumlish December 2011


Saturday, 17 December 2011

You expect me to believe that?


Immaculate conception
virgin birth
angels and shepherds
bright shining stars
wise men and mangers
an angry king
a desperate world
and a baby God
Do you really expect folk
to believe all that?
What a story to tell a world
that longs for good news today.
The only way folk will believe
such a fanciful tale
is if they can see the evidence
that God is born
in us
if we can share the love
that came down at Christmas.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Incarnation


Incarnation - God WITH us
not just an historic event
not just in a manger in Bethlehem
for, as momentous as that was
it is NOT enough
Not enough for a world
experiencing the darkness
that shrouds the world today
Not enough for a world experiencing 
economic recession, 
unemployment,
homelessness,
poverty, 
insecurity,
corruption,
oppression,
injustice
hopelessness.
Not enough for a world
constantly needing to see
and to feel
God with us.
God with us
in ways that make sense
of the world today.
God with us
in ways that bring light
and hope into today's darkness.
God with us
as startling
and as transformative
and as unthinkable
as it was 2000 years ago.
God with us
kicking and screaming
and helpless and vulnerable.
Incarnation - for today.
Liz Crumlish December 2011


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Irrational season



This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There'd have been no room for the child.
Madeleine L'Engle

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Believe...


Believe in what your heart is saying
Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste
There's so much to celebrate
Believe in what you feel inside
And give your dreams the wings to fly
you have everything you need
If you just believe


Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri
Performed by Josh Groban, featured in The Polar Express

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Choosing

These past few weeks, schools have been disrupted by industrial action and by bad weather. Inconvenient for some. A bonus for others. Weekends tend to be work filled, so an opportunity midweek to enjoy some quality family time has been a gift.
Life bombards us with situations not of our choosing or making. How we see those and use them varies and is dependent on lots of other factors but, often, we have the chance turn a difficulty into something positive.
In the busyness of this season of Advent, we can choose to find time for contemplation, choose to swim against the tide that wants to sweep us headlong into Christmas and, instead, take time to appreciate the journey along the way.

Monday, 12 December 2011

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

It wasn't supposed to be a candle lit carol service. We hadn't done a comprehensive risk assessment. But, when there was a major area power failure about an hour before the service was due to start and, with the 80 strong community gospel choir, the brass ensemble, the worship band and the drama group already there rehearsing in a well heated sanctuary, we decided to dig out the candles and go ahead. And what a beautiful service. What a wonderful ambience. And the baby Jesus certainly showed up, right at home in the improvised setting, enjoying the spontaneity and as disappointed as the other worshippers when the lights eventually came back on!
In those one-off unplanned moments, God is at home, inviting us to lay down our carefully choreographed schemes to make room to celebrate the advent of God with us - Emmanuel.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Advent wishes


This meditation is based on the four weeks of Advent 

Christmas wishes ….

My wish for you this Christmas is hope
the hope that things can be different
that the odds can be reversed
that justice can prevail
that we can see God turning cartwheels right in front of our eyes?
Why?
Because God is continually trying to attract our attention
so that even in the darkness of life
we can see flickers of hope

My wish for you this Christmas is peace
not that wee moment of darkness when all is quiet and you can take a breath
but peace that is deep and lasting
that seeps in to everything you do
changing your perception
calming your fear
letting you relax as you have never done before
  
My wish for you this Christmas is love
the love that came in the form of a baby
born in poverty and seen as a threat
to political stability
that kind of love
not sentimental or slushy
but grounded in the reality of a harsh and brutal life
fighting for survival
succeeding against the odds
making all the difference
Love that perseveres because love is of God

My wish for you this Christmas is joy
joy that ripples right to your toes
not the easy smile you wear
or forced jollity you perform
but a joy that bubbles up from the depths
lifting your spirit
sending you soaring
leaving you reeling and breathless
the joy of the baby God

And with these gifts
of hope and peace and love and joy
God fills us to the brim
so that we can overflow
in to the world around us
being Christ to each other
Seeing Christ in each other
And serving even the least of these.
Liz Crumlish December 2011

Saturday, 10 December 2011

And is it true...



I love these words from John Betjeman:

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine

Friday, 9 December 2011

Never ending story

The Forth Bridge, which spawned the myth that, by the time its painters finished painting it, it was time to start again has, finally, been coated with a long lasting paint - which means it shouldn't need painted again for at least 20 years. It was unveiled today in all its painted glory. And so ends an era that produced a metaphor for those tasks that seem never ending.
Changing landscapes are a recurring theme in the life of faith. Continually, God's people are called to move physically and spiritually to embrace changes in the landscape and culture that surround us. Finding ways to keep the story alive and to share the steadfast love of God in a new age is the challenge always before us, a challenge to which we are called to respond with imagination and innovation that allows the old, old, story to be told in every age.
May advent hope and light pierce whatever landscape surrounds you.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Invisible halo


Pregnant Advent
For those experiencing the anticipation of pregnancy
in this season of waiting and expectation
God sends angels
to massage soothing balm
into the twinges of fear and apprehension
For those mourning the emptiness of loss
in this season of giving
God sends angels
not to fill the void
but to hold the space
so that grief may be honoured and cherished
Those same angels that announced
earth shattering changes
in the lives of Mary and Joseph
and Elizabeth and Zechariah
and life altering good news
for shepherds going about their daily grind
minister in our world today
stealing into lives disrupted
by  events
longed for or dreaded
bidden or unbidden
and wrap those invisible, noiseless wings
around our lives
mending and minding
swaddling in love
still being heralds
of the Advent of God
in ALL of life
Liz Crumlish Dec 2011

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Love never ends

We held our Quiet Christmas Service tonight, an opportunity for those missing loved ones, to sit out for a time from all the brightness of the season and to have their loss acknowledged and their sadness shared. Although this is only my fourth Christmas season in this community, I was very conscious of all those whose loss we have mourned even in that short time. As we hung stars on the tree and lit candles it was wonderful to feel so much a part of folks' lives, folk who have generously allowed me to share in their joy and in their sorrow.
The stars we hung on the tree reminded us of the birth we prepare to celebrate and the candles we placed on the cross linked that baby with the Christ who died for us. God gets alongside us in this season and in every season constantly reminding us that love never dies.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Perpetual star

The star at the top of our tree is supposed to shine for 6 hours and then go dark, until the next night. But it has been shining since we set it in motion 3 days ago. It is battery operated and there is no switch so, other than removing the batteries, it continues to shine. How apt in the season when we celebrate the Light that came into the world which the darkness has never put out. (John 1)

Monday, 5 December 2011

Nativity chic

Nativity sets come in all shapes and sizes. In our home, we have several - a beautiful Willow Tree set, a plaster set, made by disabled ex service personnel, a chunky plastic set (from Avon) that the children loved to play with, a playmobil Nativity and, this year's addition - a rubber duck nativity set. Perhaps not in the best taste, but lots of fun. Each in their own way portray the Christmas story, of love born in lowly places, for ordinary people - even those with a warped sense of humour!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Advent 2


A reflection on John the Baptist - Preparer of the Way:

They flocked to see him, this wild prophet.
Out of curiosity?
Out of novelty?
Out of boredom?
He was certainly a sight to behold.
And he didn’t mince his words.
He told it straight.
Dressed nothing up.
Yet, still folk wanted to listen.
Maybe tired of being spoon fed
and molly-coddled.
They realised they needed to hear 
something more challenging.
It wasn’t a message of comfort
but, in a strange way,
it was a message of hope.
And, somehow, the starkness
made it more real.
What if we stopped dressing up the story
and allowed the truth to emerge?
Being a messenger might involve
saying the things 
that no one wants to hear
and showing a way 
that no one wants to follow.
Shaking folk out of their complacency
to look toward the light.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Decentralising faith

I've always wanted to see John the Baptist depicted in our church Nativity scenes. He'd be out of place to say the least. One of my colleagues suggested that we could put a motion activated John the Baptist in one of those outdoor Nativity scenes and, every time someone walked past he could call out something suitably insulting. That seems to be what John the Baptist was good at!
And yet, for all his harsh words, people flocked to the wilderness to hear him preach and to respond to his call to repentance.
John the Baptist conducted a ministry on the margins. And isn't that the sort of ministry in which the church today should be engaged - taking the good news out to the periphery of society, sharing with those on the fringes, to whom belongs the Kingdom of God.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Gift



Journeying through Advent
we look for perfection
for everything done and dusted
the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed
everything wrapped up and beautifully finished off
because it’s all in the presentation .
But you are so untidy, God.
You send a baby
who girns and soils,
needs fed and changed
who kicks off the covers and won’t lie still
and you ask us to care for this baby God
We can’t do that in our good clothes
in our pristine homes
because babies bring mess and chaos
and noise and upheaval.
They don’t fit into perfectly ordered lives.
God, give us the ability to tear up our schedules
and to give up our tidiness
and allow you, playful God
to muss our hair
and crumple our clothes
and, as we learn to care for you
may we also care for each other   
in all our untidiness.
Liz Crumlish December 2011                                             



Thursday, 1 December 2011

Advent for beginners?

I got to "explain" Advent to P7 kids today(11year olds). As always, this was a great exercise for making me think about what advent is. We talked about calendars, candles, and colours as well prophets, John the Baptist, Mary and Gaudete. Yes, we went quite deep! I was amazed when one youngster asked me - so what does the chocolate (in their advent calendars) have to do with Advent? I'll not tell you how I "fudged" an answer to that but it was a lovely opportunity to draw them back to the real point of Christmas - Jesus - who came to bring light, hope, peace and joy into the world.
To sum things up at the end, I used a video from Busted Halo and the children are going to go online and check out their Advent Calendar. Thanks be to God for children who encourage us to examine what we do.

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