Posts Tagged With: Christmas

He is in every room of our life.

The following was written by my wife, a Christmas fanatic!

“There’s a Nativity scene in every room of my home,” I tell people at this time of the year.

I am a lover of Christmas. Unashamedly I celebrate the coming of Christ as a babe in Bethlehem. While others complain that putting decorations up in November is too early, I am thinking it’s not early enough. If eating mince pies is a reminder that Jesus came to redeem sinners, then what’s wrong with having them in the shops a week after Easter?

And so I put a Nativity scene in every room.
There are two, side by side, in the front window. They were fashioned in Peru; very simple creations that reflect the people of South America in their look and dress. One sits in a hand shape. On the stable roof of the other a little angel is curled up, asleep, while Mary watches her precious Baby and the wise men clutch their gifts.
I stop to look while I’m rummaging in my bag for the front door key.
Jesus came.

Inside in the hallway there are three wise men standing to attention on the dresser.


The Nativity

They are candle holders with small candles sticking up out of their crowns.
Surely these visitors to Jesus were always destined to be bearers of the Light. They made their way to Jesus’ side by following a star. They found the Light, did a u-turn, and carried that Light back to the East from where they’d come.
Jesus illuminates.

A few steps further, into the kitchen. Here is my best Nativity scene. It’s a beauty!
A cross-stitched triptych depicting the shepherds, the Holy family, and the Magi, is the backdrop for the corresponding figurines in front. It’s a rich scene. The deep hues of the clothes worn by the characters, the ornate rugs carried by the camel, and the opulent gifts held out to the Newborn are contrasted with the straw I’ve strewn around their legs. I have collected extras for this scene – several animals, an odd assortment of angels – from around the world.
The centre of their attention is Jesus. He lies in the lowly manger with arms outstretched.
Jesus gathers.

In our family room there is another Nativity on the piano. It’s carved from a piece of soapstone. It sits beneath another framed cross-stitch which says “Wonderful Counsellor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”.
The scene is simple. Three characters. One small, small Infant. Yet He is all that the quote from Isaiah declares.
Jesus fulfils.

I go into our bedroom, and there on the mirror hangs another Nativity scene. It comes from Belgium. It is made of lace.
I often notice it while I’m glancing in the mirror before dashing off for the day. “Is my hair okay? Collar straight?”
“Oh look, there’s Jesus…..”
In this scene it’s hard to see all the details unless you come close. Then you see the ox and the donkey, the shape of the manger and the tilt of Joseph’s head. Then you notice the haloes around the faces.
It’s delicate and intricate.
Jesus cares.

Finally the bathroom and yes, there is a Nativity scene in here too. A plain wooden one; one piece. Joseph stands, Mary holds Jesus close to her breast.
It’s on the bench above the washing machine. Today there is a pile of washing in front of it so it’s not easy to spot. A toothbrush, laundry powder and a bottle of moisturiser stand around it like bizarre wise men.

The Holy family are witnesses to the business of a bathroom. It’s not pretty. It’s not clean. But it is the business of cleansing and beautifying. The Son is there in the midst of our muck.
Jesus cleanses.

In January I will move through my home to collect my Nativity scenes. They’ll be carefully wrapped and stored away for the 9 months until early November. Jesus’ life will be compressed into our period of time between then and Easter. His birth, and then His death and Resurrection. Next December we will begin the Advent season again, waiting for Jesus.
But in God’s reality of time, which is ‘time-less’, Jesus never leaves. He never arrives, because He always was. We don’t have to wait, because He is.

He is in every room of our life.

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(Luke 1)


So it was our clan’s turn

And the dice rolled in my favour.

Beth will be happy.

The old dear has always been  proud

When I get my day in the temple.


With people praying outside

I was inside and about to light the incense


And then …

And then …

You wouldn’t believe it …

Next to the altar of incense …

You wouldn’t believe it …

We hadn’t seen one in hundreds of years.

An angel!


Nearly scared the life out of me!


“Don’t be afraid,”  he said.

Easy for him to say!

Then he goes on,

Beth, the old girl, will have a son.


At her age!

“Call him John,” he said.

Not even a family name.

He was to grow up like a Nazirite

– So no alcohol.

And he will turn people back to God.

How can this be? I said.


And then I said no more.

I couldn’t. I couldn’t talk.

This angel Gabriel,

As called himself,

Struck me dumb.

Until now as I hold John

In my arms.

And I can praise God!

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Sin had slithered …


And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;  he will crush your head,  and you will strike his heel.”

Gen 3:15

Sin had slithered in

and God living harmony


Life and love became terminal.

Hope less.


Through the human

silence of the guilty

in the garden

the Word spoke again.


Sin and love

declared enemies.

One must go.


An enemy crushed.

A head abolished



The cost:

The Godman would come

From the broken

Mother of the living.

A divine son slain.

A Word crucified

so that love

and harmony

will rise and rule again.



Pieter Stok



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Has Jesus left the Church?

I have deliberately made the title vague. It can be taken in a number of ways.

I have just been observing the lead up to Christmas and Christmas itself in Europe. In some places like Seville there was a Christmas market which only sold items for nativity sets. In another few markets I could have bought gloves, scarves and solar panels to do me for a few lifetimes. There has been a mixture of the sacred and secular. All in all, the secular wins.

But Christmas is only a microcosm of society’s attitude to faith and religion in general. So little of the Christ of Christmas remains but that is true of life in general.

So has Christ left the church, in the sense that even the church has left the Christ of Christmas tucked away in some small corner? We sing the carols, attend church for the one time in the year but they are empty tokens. How many sermons were preached this Christmas that declared a radical Christ who introduced a new kingdom through his own death and resurrection? How many sermons declared Christ’s own words, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” That politically incorrect statement comes from the Messiah and is unpopular in many churches today. The cute baby in in a feed trough is easier to speak about and certainly less confronting.

But there is an even scarier perspective. Christ withdrawing himself, not unlike the Shekinah leaving the temple in Ezekiel. Christ leaving because the people who bear his name do do so thoughtlessly. I know he says in Matt 28 that he will be with his disciples to the end of the age but that was on the basis of their continued faith (not perfection).

The radical Christ, the counter cultural Christ, the Christ of a new and everlasting kingdom, the Christ who purchased the lives of his people on the cross and is now preparing a place in eternity for them, the Christ who dwells in his people through the Holy Spirit, the Christ who fought injustice and prejudice, the Christ who tells us that this life is only a brief pilgrimage … He is so hard to find in many churches and many western lives. Alas in my own life.

Has Jesus left the church? Only if we, his representatives on earth, have left him. In our syncretititic and politically correct age we need need to have the courage of the one who gave us his name to stand up to the culture and attitudes of our age and reveal how amazing his message really is. This Christmas have we been overawed and amazed that God became one of us because He loved us so much? Have we been humbled by his claim on our lives? Are we rejoicing in the revelation of His kingdom?


A nativity scene in a side chapel at Caen Cathedral


Categories: christian, Christianity, Church, Faith | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

The Tragedy of Christmas

We have been watching the build up to Christmas in Europe. Our first sighting, apart from the supermarkets, came in Seville in Spain where there were stalls selling items for your own individual nativity scene, not just with the usual characters but a whole host of buildings, bridges, windmills, wells and etc. The Christmas markets in Northern Europe have been more intent on selling stuff – socks to solar panels.
The same sound track seems to play in all the malls. Riding together in with sleigh bells and ” Santa Baby”. The U.K. has an added history of awful Christmas hits that must played.
Christmas cards and tree ornaments have appeared, then the trees arrived and now the prices are being reduced as we get closer to the day. In Holland the Oliebollen kraams appear and my heart flutters. Even the boats in Harlingen are festooned with lights.
In the midst of the Santas, reindeers and fake snow we have observed some beautiful nativity scenes. One cathedral had set aside a side chapel and created a beautiful life sized nativity. The Notre Dame in Paris has a strange tall well lit model building with the Holy family in the middle. What it signified remains a total mystery to me. In Dordrecht there was a confused looking “Mary” wandering about a pen of animals holding a baby in a “this Christmas market is taking far too long” manner.
If I arrived from outer space knowing little about planet earth what impression would I get? I would be in no doubt about it being holiday, food and family time. However, the idea that Christians were celebrating the incarnation of their God who would die on the cross to restore His people with their eternal father is lost in the dross. I like food and holidays and even family, but the tragedy is that the heart of the season is missing. I may be mistaken but it seems that every year a bit more of the heart goes missing.


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Christmas Gloom?

The following is a guest blog from my wife, who like usual, doesn’t beat around the bush. She explores some of her feelings about how we as a society celebrate Christmas.

This Christmas time I have a profound sense of gloom regarding the Message of Christmas. Particularly, the proclamation of it.

Perhaps it is because, for the first time in many years, I haven’t told a child (or several hundred children) the story of Jesus’ birth. Or it could be because I tried, unsuccessfully, to find a new home for my huge stash of nativity costumes and props. Nobody does Nativity plays with the Sunday school kids anymore.

Or maybe it was friends telling me about their church’s children’s service, or the friends and neighbours’ Christmas service- all taking place weeks, if not more than a month before the 25th of December.

Or the depressing trips to the shopping malls, where I hear lots of Carols proclaiming the Good News, but nobody’s listening. It has just become seasonal background noise.

So what will the Church of our Messiah, who was born at Christmas, be doing on Christmas morning?

Celebrating? Families will unwrapping presents, stressing about food preparation, and steeling themselves for that afternoon they must spend with relatives they don’t like. Children will be overwhelmed by gifts that will be broken or discarded by the end of the year.

Worshipping? Most churches have a service. It’s earlier, shorter, and attended by the few poor souls who don’t have pressing family commitments. Where possible, the senior pastor has given the job of delivering the message to the idiot who first asked “Are we having a service on Christmas Day?” Nobody stays for coffee afterwards, because everyone needs to be somewhere else.

Ignoring the whole thing? Yep, there are plenty of Christians who shun Christmas altogether. The anti-Christmas brigade, I call them.

In my ideal world I would have Jesus’ Church celebrate His birth on the day that history has recognised for centuries. Whether it is the exact day or not is irrelevant.

Children, in full costume, would tell the story before a packed house; choirs would sing carols; pastors preach their best sermon; the choicest and sweetest treats shared for morning tea, over which people would linger until it became lunch.

This day would be eagerly anticipated and planned for months.

And the world would know what is most special for Christians at Christmas.




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