From the monthly archives:

December 2011

Met Office: 2011 ‘2nd warmest year on record’

by Richard on December 30, 2011

From the BBC
Provisional figures show that only 2006, with an average temperature of 9.73C (49.5F), was warmer than 2011’s average temperature of 9.62C (49.3F).
This year saw high temperatures for lengthy periods; including the warmest April and spring on record, the second warmest autumn and the warmest October day.
Early figures suggest 2011 is ending with a [...]

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Caergwrle Castle

by Richard on December 30, 2011

A grey day, but thought I’d share just to let you know I’m still around!

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Thirty years of Christmas sermons

by Richard on December 26, 2011

A gift from Kim Fabricius to preachers everywhere…

Thirty: a Christmas sermon
via Faith and Theology

A Christmas sermon by Kim Fabricius
This is my 30th Christmas at Bethel. (I know: given my youthful good-looks, it’s hard to believe…)  In preparation, I’ve been looking at my previous 29 sermons.
On my first Christmas (which some of you [...]

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“Blind Noel” by R.S. Thomas

by Kim on December 25, 2011

Christmas; the themes are exhausted.
Yet there is always room
on the heart for another
snowflake to reveal the pattern.
Love knocks with such frosted fingers.
I look out. In the shadow
of so vast a God I shiver, unable
to detect the child for the whiteness.
R.S. Thomas, No Truce with the Furies (Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1995), p. 84.

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Hymn of the day

by Richard on December 25, 2011

Let earth and heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine
The incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made Man.
He laid His glory by,
He wrapped Him in our clay;
Unmarked by human eye,
The latent Godhead lay;
Infant of days He here became,
And bore the mild Immanuel’s Name.
Unsearchable the love
That hath the Saviour brought;
The grace is far [...]

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Emily Dickinson at Christmas

by Kim on December 25, 2011

The Savior must have been
A docile Gentleman –
To come so far so cold a Day
For little Fellowmen –
The Road to Bethlehem
Since He and I were Boys
Was leveled, but for that ‘twould be
A rugged billion Miles –

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Who says we’ve got to suffer
with the thorn’s splinters gouging,
when there is such a star, and such
a scent, roses and donkeys?
Who makes the stars shine so,
glowing like roses in the dawn?
Who warms the frosty night to be
a sable fur round the king’s shoulders?
Here in the stable, no befores and afters:
just the heart’s wild excess and [...]

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But to what do we refer when we speak of “religious’ experience”? One of the components of the remarkable revival of interest, in recent years, in what is called “religion”, seems to have been a growing and largely unquestioned assumption that the concept of “religious experience” stands for a discriminable psychological state, alongside such [...]

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Talking turkey

by Richard on December 23, 2011

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Matthew informs his readers that the wise men entered the house where they saw Mary and the child (Mt 2:1-12). The story in Matthew confirms the suggestion that Luke’s account describes a birth in a private home.
With this understanding in mind, all the cultural problems I have noted are solved. Joseph was not [...]

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What is Chanukah?

by Richard on December 22, 2011

I’m not the only one re-blogging. Rachel Barenblat points us to one of her old posts, a very useful look at the various meanings of Chanukah.

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Will Campbell: Klan Nativity

by Kim on December 22, 2011

[Will] Campbell understood that the ministry of reconciliation to which he had been called made him peculiar in the eyes of the world, and as he pursued his vocation in the changing South, he became increasingly convinced that Christ-shaped love resisted identification with either conservative or liberal politics. In 1963 he scandalized many in [...]

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Local Boy Makes Good, by Harri Webb

by Richard on December 21, 2011

When Christ was born on Dowlais Top
The ironworks were all on stop,
The money wasn’t coming in,
But there was no room at the Half Moon Inn.
The shepherds came from Twyn y Waun
And three kings by the Merthyr and Brecon line,
The star shone over the Brecon’s ridge
And the angels sang on Rhymney Bridge.
When Christ turned water into [...]

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Lying about Santa? (Another Christmas reblog)

by Richard on December 21, 2011

Many Christians are apt to be just a little bit churlish when it comes to Christmas. I sometimes get a sense that Christians are resentful that “our” festival has been stolen, taken over by revellers who are happy to sing carols and watch a school nativity play but will give little or no thought to [...]

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A pre-Christmas reblog

by Richard on December 21, 2011

It’s the season for school nativity plays — and I love them! My youngest daughter (aged 7) is well in to preparations for her pivotal role this year as an innkeeper and I can be sure that the production will include all the necessary ingredients: tea-towels, dressing gowns and tinsel aplenty. Splendid!
One scene in [...]

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“A Carol for Children” by Ogden Nash

by Kim on December 21, 2011

God rest you, merry Innocents,
Let nothing you dismay,
Let nothing wound an eager heart
Upon this Christmas Day.
Yours be the genial holly wreaths,
The stockings and the tree;
An aged world to you bequeaths
Its own forgotten glee.
Soon, soon enough come crueler gifts,
The anger and the tears;
Between you now there sparsely drifts
A handful yet of years.
Oh dimly, dimly glows the [...]

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A hymn of repentance

by Richard on December 19, 2011

Worship in church has become unstoppably Christmassy. But if you want to hang on to the Advent mood just a little longer, check out Kim’s hymn over at Faith and Theology.

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“The Annunciation” by Elizabeth Jennings

by Kim on December 18, 2011

Nothing will ease the pain to come
Though now she sits in ecstasy
And lets it have its way with her.
The angel’s shadow in the room
Is lightly lifted as if he
Had never terrified her there.
The furniture again returns
To its old simple state. She can
Take comfort from the things she knows
Though in her heart new loving burns
Something [...]

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Hymn of the day

by Richard on December 18, 2011

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame;
‘All hail,’ said he, ‘thou lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favoured lady.’
Gloria!
‘For known a blessed mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honour thee,
Thy son shall be Immanuel, by seers foretold;
Most highly favoured lady.’
Gloria!
Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,
‘To me be as [...]

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