Monday, 30 December 2013

Three Kings

...from Persian lands afar....

Yes, the Wise Men are back. Listen to their wise words over at Spiritually Directed. Thanks, Roberta!

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas

to all my readers, if they're still there!  Many many reasons for the lack of bloggery this Advent, some of which I'll not go into. Others...well...chief of which you can see in the photo; the arrival a fortnight ago of GP dog II. Here she is with her faithful companion, GP dog, starting as they mean to go on. Let me recommend adoption of a rescue dog as a sure fire cure for insomnia; since she's been with us, I've fallen asleep almost as soon as my head has hit the pillow! Such a sweet little thing, but hard work. Being ex-breeding, she's missed out on so many of the socialisation experiences  that should have been hers whilst she was a puppy. It's been a busy few weeks. (Well, that's my excuse for putting off Christmas prep) Yet even in the short time she's been with us, it's been wonderful to see how love, kind words, and most of all the company of GP dog, has changed her. She does still hate being left, which has limited our movements somewhat: no midnight mass this year and DH and I took turns to do the Christmas shopping. Takes me right back to when the children were little and hurrying back to let the babysitter go home! Never have the arrival of our two, now adult children been so welcomed!


This Advent we had some visitors to the GP creche: a knitted Mary, Joseph and Doogal the donkey, who made their home with us as  part of their journey round the parish. Each lucky host filled in their 'passport' with an account of their adventures. From what I read, they had a great time on their travels, which culminated with their arrival in church this morning. We certainly loved having them. Here are some more pics of their adventures chez Greenpatch.

Well, where else to take a donkey but to see a long-lost relative at the Christmas market.  A kind lady agreed to pose with our hairy friends. The original plan - to have reindeer had to be changed, when Rudolf jumped over the fence and made off  at top speed down the road.

Our holy family even got to take a trip on the train - down the line to take part in our Franciscan small group's Christmas meeting. 

What else? Mr GP and I enjoyed a wonderful Christmas concert at church a couple of weeks ago and and last weekend I did manage to get to Nine Lessons and Carols. It never ceases to weave its magic for me. "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it..." We all clutched on our candles as they burned lower and lower. Would that frail  wavering light last out until the end of the penultimate carol? It was a near thing. But 'light and life to all he brings..." we got there at last - to the final triumphant "Hark! The herald angels sing. Glory to the new born king!" I kept my candle stump -as a reminder to myself of that light and hope.

And - unexpected bonus. I may not have been able to go to midnight mass myself  this year but an unexpected call early on Christmas eve from a fellow sacristy helper who'd been taken ill meant I spent a quiet time that morning counting out hundreds of wafers, wine and assorted altar linen. All to the accompaniment of the childrens' groups rehearsing for the crib service next door. OK - maybe 'quiet' isn't the most apt word to use! Magic all the same. Although - I do think our church's children must be exceptionally well-behaved compared to most. It's the first time I've ever heard kids that age singing "Gabriel's Message" without trying to sneak in the "alternative words!"

Then on to  a local rest home to visit a very  elderly church member. 

It may not have been quite what I'd planned for the day, but the best laid plans....

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Advent - Expectant

O come, O come, thou swallow small,
   responding to your infants' call,
   fly far and wide across the earth
  and end with hope our winter's dearth.

        Rejoice! Rejoice! A tiny bird
       shall show a truth that seems absurd.
        - Jim Cotter from Expectant - Verses for Advent, Cairns Publications

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Advent - Chriskindelmarkt

Here's one of my favourite places to visit this Advent - our town's  new Christmas market, first proper one we've ever had. Not quite the 'real' Christkindelmarket, like the one we knew when we lived in Alsace of course. Still, it's pretty close and  to potter round, hot chocolate or mulled wine in hand,   as darkness falls  is just magical.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Advent - Expectancy

Let's approach Christmas with an expectant hush, rather than a last-minute rush.

 - by that well-known personage 'Anon.'

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Advent- Waiting

You keep us waiting.
You, the God of all time,
Want us to wait for the right time in which to discover
Who we are, where we must go,
Who will be with us, and what we must do.
So, thank you…for the waiting time.
 - John Bell