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Sunday, 15 December 2019

Meeting a Prophet

Many years ago when I was still in my old parishes I took a Christingle service.  We always had Christingle on Christmas Eve and it was always very popular.  Parents wanted their children to hear the real meaning of Christmas and they wanted them to hear it from the vicar in church.  If the vicar was prepared to entertain their kids on Christmas Eve when they were as high as kites, most parents thought that was a brilliant idea.  And everybody wanted to join in singing “Away in a manger” by candlelight.  It was a high spot of Christmas for quite a few people.

All those of you who have been to a Christingle will know that although it’s a service which everybody enjoys, it’s really a service for children.  So I was a little concerned when a rather dishevelled man came in about three minute before the start, took off his shoes and socks and started to warm his feet in front of the gas fire.  These days strange men wandering in to children’s services are inevitably regarded with a certain amount of suspicion.  I went across to talk to him but he wasn’t in a mood for a chat so I started the service anyway.

He sat there throughout the service with his feet to the fire and his back to me.  Even when the children came forward to receive their Christingles and they were all standing in the aisles he didn’t want to move.  He sat there as families left and he sat there as people all around him chatted.  It was obvious that he would have stayed there all night so I had a word with a big strapping soldier on leave and asked if he would mind coming with me if I offered to take the chap to the shelter in Lincoln.  It was OK by him so I thought I’d solved the problem.

Except that the man didn’t want to go.

By this time all the children had gone but there were a lot of adults left in church, bless their hearts, because they didn’t want to leave me on my own with the man but I really hadn’t got a clue what to do next.  I’m a single woman living alone and I didn’t want to take him home with me.   I knew the churchwardens wouldn’t agree to leaving the man in church and nobody seemed to have any ideas at all.  Stalemate.

Then one of the men stepped forward and I was a bit surprised that he was in his shirt sleeves.  He’d taken off his jacket and he put it around the stranger’s shoulders saying, “That’ll keep you warm and there’s some cash in the pocket too.”  Then the floodgates opened and the pockets were filled with rather crackly gifts but after a few gifts the chap stopped us giving him more saying he’d got enough now.  He’d probably been given about £70 to £80 which is hardly a fortune. 

Somehow, though, the atmosphere relaxed.  One or two more people left the church and a woman prison officer had a word with the man and then took him home with her to have some hot soup.  Another man had a word and discovered that the man didn’t want to go to Lincoln but he’d got friends in Scunthorpe so he arranged to take him.  I breathed a sigh of relief, bade farewell to the stragglers and went home.

But the memory of that night will never leave me for that night I think I met a prophet.  Prophets aren’t fortune tellers.  They’re not really into predicting the future.  What prophets do is to make us look at the present and see it for what it really is and more important make us see ourselves for what we really are.

We’d all gone to church that night to celebrate the birth of Christ.  We were all good Christian folk and I’m pretty sure that all of us had made our charitable donations in the run up to Christmas.  We’d  all heard the bidding prayer which reminded us  that because this of all things would rejoice his heart, we should remember, in his name, the poor and helpless, the cold, the hungry, and the oppressed; the sick and them that mourn, the lonely and the unloved. 

We’d all heard that and we thought we were all good Christian people.  We’d done our bit and there are systems and charities in place to care for everybody.  It took a stranger to remind us that Christ did not come to bring systems but to bring love.  The stranger reminded us whilst Christ loves all humanity he also loves each human and asks us to love and care in his name.  He was pretty low down in the social heap but he had friends and he had preferences even if it was just to go to Scunthorpe not Lincoln and no, I didn’t know what was best for him

John the Baptist was a prophet in the wilderness of Judaea.  May we recognise God’s prophets wherever we find them. 

(I'm linking with Tracing Rainbows Pause in Advent.  Sorry I didn't post anything last week.)

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Meet Welly Dog

I had to pass our local (retained) fire station this evening. Welly Dog was on guard.

Advent continues

Most nights, come rain or shine, I've been out to see the various windows which form Caistor's Living Advent Calendar.  It's lovely!  Not only are the windows gorgeous but the mulled wine and mince pies are pretty good too.

Here are a few highlights.  Some windows don't photograph well and I'm no great shakes as a photographer!

This was a tiny window with tiny, tiny figures inside

The Methodist church did a simple but effective nativity scene.  
One bungalow featured owls.  There were actually owls hooting in nearby trees as well!
This house featured a rather ethereal angel

And there are still lots more to see!

Friday, 6 December 2019

Further into Advent

Advent continues to unfold its lovely self in this lovely community.

I've been to see the Living Advent Calendar most nights and am amazed at the variety of windows.  Some look great but don't photograph well but I was very impressed by this one for 4th December.  It was also our monthly Street-Food Market at a nearby park at the same time so as well as the mince pies and mulled wine I had a Dutch sausage thingy that night! I bought the sausage wotsit-thingy, but the mulled wine and mince pies were courtesy of the householder who had done the light display.  That same generosity has been shown most nights.  (The street-food market is a semi commercial venture.)

Last night I missed the window lights because I went to our Women's Institute Christmas Dinner.   Santa couldn't come this year but he sent his Missus!

So far I haven't put up my lights.  When I was a child they didn't go up until Christmas Eve or maybe 23rd December but as I get older I'm putting them up a little earlier.  Maybe next week.

However, my Advent stable continues to reveal its secrets.  So far a star, an angel, a herdsman, a cow, a sheep and a goat have appeared.