Category Archives: christmas

A song, a poem and a quote as we wait for ‘peace on earth’

As a son of Belfast, now living ‘across the border’ in Dublin it pains me to read of the violence scarring my hometown these past few days. The sadness I feel is offset by the hope I experienced today with a bunch of young leaders, full of passion and potential, committed to making their worlds, and the world a better place. Committed to seeing God’s kingdom fleshed out. Prepared for the waiting that involves.

Yesterday I met two Welsh tourists, gutted that their trip to Belfast had been called off due to safety concerns. I then tried to explain to a friend some of the reasons behind what was happening without making it sound too crazy.

In advent we wait for the hope that is to come. Tonight we decorated our Christmas tree. Near the top hangs the word ‘peace’. Tonight I feel sadness as I wait and pray for peace in my hometown. The song, poem and quote were posted by 3 different friends. All seemed to resonate tonight…

 A song – Stephen (David Ford)


A poem – Christmas Bells (Henry Wadsworth)

And in despair I bowed my head;

‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;

‘For hate is strong,

And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’


Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!

The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men!’

The full poem can be found here.


A quote – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.

From this blog, written about a different context but that seems to apply, whose writer goes on to add:

Just because you didn’t get what you want doesn’t mean that you are “persecuted”. It means you can’t have everything.

Just because you got outvoted by a majority in a democratic election does not mean you are “persecuted”. It means you got outvoted.

Just because you can no longer rely on a previously enjoyed advantage does not mean that you are “persecuted”. It simply means that existing laws are now being enforced and you can no longer pretend they don’t apply to you because you are part of a previously privileged group.


What’s the worst Christmas present you ever received?

Christmas presents are a funny thing. Often we complain about having to spend money and time on getting people presents. Sometimes it can be an incredible feeling buying someone something you know they will love. Then there is the challenge of what to buy someone who doesn’t actually need anything. Sometimes we complain about getting stuff we don’t want or like. But then we’d also complain if we didn’t get anything when we expected something. Giving gifts is and can be a beautiful thing but too often gets sucked of the joy and beauty by the commercialisation all around us.

Sometimes the best presents don’t cost a lot of money.

Sometimes we do build up a collection of unwanted presents. What’s the worst present you’ve ever received?

I’m trying to remember. While I do check out some responses by a few Dubs on this video by Tearfund:

Sometimes the best presents are things given to others on our behalf like at advent conspiracy

What are the best or worst Christmas presents you have ever received?

It’s o so quiet – have Irish church leaders lost their voice?

On Boxing/St. Stephen’s day, the BBC website carries stories about church leaders speaking prophetically into our culture in Wales, England and Scotland. There was a general story on the front page, alongside the Pope’s Christmas message. But then I began to look for what Irish church leaders were saying at Christmas. Maybe because it’s Christmas church leaders get more airtime, and it was interesting to read most of them speaking intelligently and some might say prophetically into our society and culture. A simple trawl of stories on front page and search deeper into Europe and NI sections reveal nothing. Is it just they are not getting reported or have church leaders in Ireland lost their voice?

The Party

The day of the party had arrived. It wasn’t a big affair, just a few friends and the odd neighbour coming for some Christmas drinks and hopefully some craic. The morning was spent finishing off the Christmas shopping, amidst the bustling hordes. Lunch was quickly downed with the knowledge that preparations for the evening needed to be made. Cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming the house seemed to take an age, and felt like gym workout. As the tidying progressed, dishes were done, dinner eaten, furniture moved, candles lit, and music chosen the house was transformed. When the last snacks and drinks were sitting on the table ready to be consumed, suddenly there was nothing left to do but wait for the first arrival. After the busyness and rushing around, the last minute trip to M&S, there was stillness. In the stillness, preparations made, we wondered who would come, how the night would go, would people get on? In the midst of the anticipation suddenly it dawned on me. This is advent. Waiting. Expectancy. Anticipation. An unexpected holy moment…


the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the nativity, the incarnation of Jesus..

It’s not something that the church tradition I grew up really made much of but something I’ve been discovering much more of in the last few years.

The onset of advent means the return of the marvellous mockingbird’s leap – a blog with the intention of helping develop the habit of being there to the world and noticing the grace that is present in each day.

Other advent delights include Divine’s dark chocolate advent calendar. And if you are sickend by the materialism, but growing weary of buying goats check out:

365 – pausing to notice

We live in an instant society, life is incredibly busy, we rush from meeting to meeting, from home to work to gym to meet people to catch favourite TV show to bed. We rarely stop. Stop simply to notice, to be aware of the moments of beauty and grace. Stop and pause not to moan or complain but to be thankful for those holy moments when God breaks through the noise and we hear his whisper. To see the good.

typing.jpg365 is a blogging movement that recognises that this stopping and pausing – recognising the moments of grace, the things to be thankful for, the moments of beauty doesn’t come naturally, but needs to be practised, to be learned and that’s what we are trying to do, trying to learn. Even on the worst days, to stop and look. It began with hoveactually and is spreading. Even the Soapbox is pausing from ranting to be thankful, so too smallcorner and lilytodd. Carrie O’Hara is also charting the good and inspiring, but also venting the bad, although I predict it may skew towards the former. Its not easy, it is a discipline that’s an easier road when walked together, so join in, and keep us going.

Another variation on the theme is the mockingbird’s leap opening with this fantastic quote by Annie Dillard

beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there”

It’s a project for the advent season -in the run up to Christmas – the coming of the ultimate gift of Jesus – its an attempt to pay attention to the gifts of each day:

“People watching and waiting for something wonderful, even as we wait during Advent for the appearance of the Christ Child.

So that in the midst of the pimping of the season we are attentive to his coming.”