Tag Archives: advent

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.


‘Our Father’ – faith as communal more than individual

It’s blindingly obvious but yet something I’ve failed to take much note of the number of times I’ve said the Lord’s prayer.

The fact that when the disciples ask Jesus how to pray and he tells them not to say ‘my Father’ but ‘our Father’ reinforces that we are called to join a community, the family of God. When we address our Father, the use of the phrase ‘our’ reminds us that we cannot exist in our own selfish little bubble demanding our own rights and wants, but the father that we address isn’t just mine but the father of all his children, of all the Christian community. In this small simple word profound truth is expressed that realigns my view on the world and those around me in the church.

No matter how different they are, no matter how much they may disagree with me, or have hurt me, we share the same Father. We receive the same relentless love, the same undeserved grace. It would be so much easier if he was just ‘my father’ but the our calls me to a more difficult road, a road walked by our elder brother, one that is redemptive, that embraces the difficulty of forgiveness. A road that can bring the joy of true reconciliation instead of the bitterness of avoidance or a pretend forgiveness. A road down which if we all had the courage to walk could change the world…

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:

the nativity – scouse style

I eschewed church tonight for a night with my feet up hoping to enjoy some Top Gear, and was intrigued to see ‘Liverpool Nativity‘ on BBC3 – described as ‘the Christmas story live in Liverpool as you’ve never seen it before’. It was a powerful performance – imagining the nativity – so sanitised and well known in modern Liverpool. The Salvation Army band marching past playing Christmas carols as Mary and Joseph are abused, issues of asylum, national security, state control reminding us not of the lovely nativity, but of a couple who were outcasts, sleeping rough, baby in a shopping trolley. They did a great job of breathing life back into the nativity, reminding me of the shock and scandal of the coming of Jesus into the world. With the lovely nativity scenes (and even nativity snow globes on offer), we forget about the genocide, the killing of the innocents perpetuated by the ruler of the state, the scandal of a pregnant unmarried couple, their welcome by the outcast unreliable shepherds, by the foreign wise men, and the smell and shit in the animal pen. Into this God came.

Tonight reminded me how the nativity story speaks powerfully into today, how it challenges us on how we treat the outsider, the immigrant, the asylum seeker, the people society despise (the ones God chose to announce then coming of hope and light and life to). The ending was powerful with the city invited to hide the holy family from Herodias and welcome Jesus into their embrace...

[Wasn’t so sure about the use of Imagine by John Lennon that the ‘shepherds’ were singing before the angels came. Although maybe a depressing hopeless song interrupted by the coming of hope makes sense…]

Tonight a holy moment took root again.
I was also reminded again of this great poem from Stocki.

The Eternal focused on a moment
The Voice becomes a listener
The Word becoming flesh and bone
Close enough to whisper
The beyond the world’s comprehension
Moves right into the midst of her
Heaven stoops to touch the earth
Close enough to whisper
Close enough to touch her
Close enough to kiss her
Close enough to be broken
Close enough to whisper
For God so loved the world
He emptied Himself to visit her
Came down to walk beside her
Close enough to whisper
The Eternal focused on a moment
The Voice becomes a listener
The Word becoming flesh and bone
Close enough to whisper.

Beginning Advent – a World AIDS Day Challenge

world_aids_day_ribbon.pngAs we begin advent – waiting to celebrate the coming of Jesus – the one who came to bring life and hope, we begin on a sombre note. Today is World AIDS Day. We begin reminding ourselves of a disease that is ravaging entire communities, that is leaving a generation of orphans in Africa, among other places. What are we to do? Often we feel helpless. Well as in advent we celebrate the gift of the Christ-child, how about celebrating advent and marking World AIDS Day by giving – perhaps matching what you spend today or on a typical Saturday night out with a gift to help in the fight against HIV/AIDS? One example is Tearfund’s Bring childhood back to life HIV/AIDS campaign. Or maybe giving some time to find out more or to campaign.