Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year

This is a poem that I was introduced to earlier this year, and I decided that it was perfect for a New Year's message. May you all have a wonderful new year!

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,

Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

Saturday, 25 December 2010


A Christmas Medley - 25th December

Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen - and kissed me there. 

The doorbell rang.

'Darling, there's someone here to see you!' her Dad called up the stairs. 'I'll show them to the lounge.'

'Coming,' Sam replied, quickly throwing on her clothes and checking herself in the mirror before running down the stairs to the lounge.

She stopped at the doorway, 'Matt!'

Mat smiled nervously, 'Hey. Thought I'd give you a surprise!'

'That you sure did, but ....' words failed her.

'Don't worry. I read your email. It's ok. Quite funny really - and I'm really sorry that you misunderstood me. Sorry that I only drop by now, too, but I wanted to organise something. Friends?' Matt asked.


This is what Christmas is about. Gifts. The gift of friendship - above all else - friendship between us and God, as well as between ourselves and our fellow man.

Extract from 'Mistletoe' by Walter de la Mare

Friday, 24 December 2010


A Christmas Medley - 24th December

Heap on more wood! – the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.
Each age has deem’d the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer:

There. That was the last of her Christmas presents. Now she could finally relax. A shimmer in the corner of her eye made her look towards the windows. It was snowing!

She quickly got up and ran over to the couch by the window. Settling into it, she watched the falling snow outside. It had already settled onto the pathway and the road. Even though she'd seen it many times, the sight of falling snow still fascinated and mesmerised her. Everything always looked so clean ... Until the thaw. That got icy and ....

Has he read it? I wonder if he's read it. Man, I wish he'd reply - or come around, or something. If only I knew. But God said I must have patience ... so I'll wait. If it's to be, then great, if not, then I did apologise.

Extract from 'Marmion' by Sir Walter Scott

Thursday, 23 December 2010


A Christmas Medley - 23rd December

Teach, O teach us , Holy Child,
By Thy Face so meek and mild,
Teach us to resemble Thee,
In Thy Sweet humility!

She knew that it was the right thing to do. She should never have assumed anything. Having looked through his Facebook account she could now see that her conclusion had been utterly wrong. If only she wasn't so impulsive.

But thank God he had allowed her to make the mistake, else she'd never have learnt this lesson. Now if only ....

Sam suspended all further thought, and clicked the mouse button. There. The email was sent. She would now need to wait and see what happened.

Song extract from "See Amid the Winter's Snow"

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

A Ray of Hope

A Christmas Medley - 22nd December

A ray of hope flickers in the sky
A tiny star lights up way up high ...

'Sam, I really need to talk to you,' it was an out-of-breath Judy. 'When can we meet up?'

'I'll be at home all afternoon. Want to come over?' Sam answered, puzzled.

'No, I'd rather not. Could you meet me at the coffee shop on the corner? It's really important,' Judy asked anxiously.

'Sure, is three o'clock ok?'

'Yup. See you there.' And they hung up.


'It wasn't at all what you assumed. Sam, he'd just bought himself a new part for his computer!' Judy said excitedly.

'Why do I get the sense you want us to be together?' Sam asked, getting frustrated. 'And what do I care about a computer?'

Judy took a deep breath. Then she continued. 'Yes, I do want you to be together. Remember that night skating? I'd never seen either of you as happy as you were that night. Sam, that is who Matt is. He's a gentleman. Alright, a slightly geeky one! But never doubt him, he knows how to treat a lady properly.'

'And what makes you suddenly the expert on Matt? How about me?' Sam questioned her friend.

'Because I'm further away from him than you are, I've been able to get to know him better than you have. And no, us together wouldn't work. Remember, Sam, you hated him till a short while ago ...'

'And I hate him now,' Sam affirmed, but she was beginning to feel that that wasn't quite true.

'Oh Sam. Just think about it, alright?' Judy urged. 'But I hope that you'll trust that I'm telling you the truth, because that is what I am telling you. He still cares deeply for you - and I know that he's been really hurt the last few days.'

Song extract from "When a Child is Born"

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


A Christmas Medley - 21st December

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts, we traverse afar.
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

The dream shifted to a dusty market place in a typical Middle-eastern town. Sam could feel the heat rising through her sandal-clad feet, as it baked down on her from above. It appeared to be close to midday, judging by the location of the sun.

A hand took her elbow, and directed her to their right, 'We need to go this way.'

They walked for a few minutes till they arrived at a humble building. The entrance to the courtyard, which was shaded by a large tree, was to the left of the building. Beneath the tree was a carpenter. He had his tools out, and was busy working on a project. Nearer to the house they could see a woman seated, busy working with some food, and at her feet was a dark-haired toddler, playing with some blocks of wood.

'Oh my word, that's Jesus?' Sam put the puzzle together. 'He's gorgeous! He must be around Billy's age. And that's Mary, and Joseph ...' Sam delightedly identified the people around her.

'Yes, that's my son. He's almost two. Now come, you need to see this,' her companion urged her into the shade under the tree.

As they moved, several people arrived at the entrance to the courtyard - six to be exact. Three of them were dressed in striking clothes, the others in plainer attire.

They walked straight to where Mary and Jesus were, and each of them knelt down before the toddler. They bowed down with their foreheads to the ground, placing before them a box each, as though offering gifts. The little boy stood up, and walked gravely towards each of them, laying his little hand on each of their heads in turn in a type of benediction.

The last thing Sam knew was a warm, encouraging squeeze on her right shoulder before she awoke.

Song extract from "We Three Kings"

Monday, 20 December 2010


A Christmas Medley - 20th December

'Hey Billy, do you want to come with Sam to look at the pretty lights?' Sam asked her little brother as she unbuckled him from his seat.

'Yeth,' Billy replied, 'Wanna go see lightth with Tham.'

'Here we go,' Sam answered as she picked him up and swung him out of the car.

They walked down the road to the first house that had lights, chatting between the two of them.

'Lightth!!' Billy exclaimed pointing at the house, his eyes big as he tried to take them in.

'Yes, lights,' Sam murmured in awe as she looked at the house and garden before them. This was a Christmas wonderland if ever she had seen one.

'Oh look, we can go and walk around the garden. This notice says we can go inside. Want to?' Sam asked Billy while pointing at a note on the fence.

'Yeth,' he answered absent-mindedly, too intent on the wonderful lights.

They went around the outside of the garden to the entrance, and as they entered it ...

Mary's boy child Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Day.
And man will live for evermore because of Christmas Day.

... Began to play.

Song extract from "Mary's Boy Child"

Sunday, 19 December 2010


A Christmas Medley - 19th December

... an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’

Sam lay on her bed, her socked feet up on the wall by the head of her bed. Her right fore-finger conducted in time to the music blaring into her ears while she hummed along.

Her mobile, which lay on her stomach, began to vibrate. She picked it up, to see that it was a call from Judy. She swiped off the headphones to take the call.

'Hey,' Judy said. 'What you doing?'

'Just relaxing, been listening to music, nothing much,' Sam replied.

'So, wassup between you and Matt? I know something happened,' Judy asked.

'I'm just mad at him, k? He's so arrogant, thinking that I'm a 'prize' that he has plans for,' Sam answered miserably.

'Where did you hear that?' Judy questioned Sam.

'On Facebook, on Thursday afternoon. What a selfish .....' Sam trailed off.

'I'm not so sure that ...' Judy said thoughtfully, '... That that's what he meant. He isn't that type of person. I'm going to find out something.'

'Fine ... Whatever you like,' Sam shrugged indifferently.

Bible passages from Matthew 1:20, 21 NRSV

Saturday, 18 December 2010


A Christmas Medley - 18th December

Hail, the Son of Righteousness!
Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King!

The final song came to an end, and silence fell across the hall. Sam couldn't help the smile that slowly spread across her face. The evening had been wonderful. From the first song, she had been mesmerised by the telling of the nativity story, memories of her dreams coming back to her with each part of the story. It was as though everything had been pointing towards tonight.

Her smile fell, though, as she remembered the down side of the night. Thankfully she had not needed to interact with Matt during the play, but she had caught him watching her more than once during the evening. She did feel kindof sorry for him, but there was no way she was going to be anyone's 'prize'! Uh oh - and here he was, heading in her direction across the stage. Time to vanish.

Which she quickly did. She ducked off the platform on which she had been sitting and went to the ladies, where her clothes were. She quickly got changed, her mind frantically running through the excuses she could use if she ran into him again. After she left this room, there would be very few places in which to hide.

Song extract from "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"

Friday, 17 December 2010

A Cup of Tea

A Christmas Medley - 17th December

The lamp is burning low upon my table top
the snow is softly falling
The air is still within the silence of my room
I hear your voice softly calling

'Mom, could you give me a lift to the dress rehearsal this evening?' Sam called from her bedroom as she was getting changed.

'For sure, I can,' her Mom popped her head around the door. 'But aren't you going with Matt?'

'Nope,' Sam replied.

'Oh dear me, what's happened? You two were getting along so well!' her Mom said.

'Nothing. Just not talking anymore,' Sam answered.

Her Mom came over and gave her a hug. 'I'm sorry my girl. I did always hope that you'd be friends, as I get on with Jenny so well. Can I make you some tea?'

'Yes please,' Sam said. 'I'll come through to the kitchen just now.'

Song extract from "A Winter's Night"

Thursday, 16 December 2010


A Christmas Medley - 16th December

All little boys be killed
At Bethl'em in his fury.

Heart beating wildly, and tension coursing through her body, Sam stared at the words emblazoned on the screen. How dare he! She closed the laptop and stomped out of the house, closing the front door behind her with a bang.

The words she had read were Matt's Facebook status: 'has finally snared his prize. She doesn't know it yet, but I've got plans for her.'

What gives him the right to assume? A prize? He can think again. Man, if I saw him right now ... men make me mad.

Blind to where she was walking, she reached the stream at the bottom of the road before she realised it. Despite the freezing temperatures, she descended the bank to sit down on a rock overlooking a turbulent section of the stream.

As the minutes passed she felt herself beginning to relax as the music emanating from the stream, and the flow of the water around the rocks, mesmerised her. Nevertheless, it was over between her and Matt.

Song extract from "Unto us a Boy is Born"

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Bring a Lamb

A Christmas Medley - 15th December

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

The earthy smell of animals filled Sam's nostrils as she became aware of her surroundings. As she stretched to iron the kinks out, she felt the rough, spiky texture of hay beneath her. Sitting up and glancing around, she spotted her now-familiar companion leaning against a nearby wall. Gentle light came from the torch on the wall nearby.

'Where are we?' she asked sleepily, suspicions running through her mind.

'Look a bit further,' he smiled at her, moving to sit next to her in the hay.

Sam did as she was bid. She found that they were in a corner of a small building. Pigs, a couple of cows, a horse and a few goats crowded in, providing the stench that had first assailed her. Beyond them, in the far corner, were two people ...

'Hey - that's Mary and Joseph, from last week!' Sam exclaimed, before she could stop herself. 'I'm sorry,' she whispered, embarrassed.

'Don't worry,' her companion replied, smiling. 'They can't hear or see you.'

'How's that?' Sam asked, struggling to not whisper, now that she knew she couldn't be heard.

'It's just how I've arranged it. We're observing.' He smiled. 'And we're back to the same night, although it's a week later for you.'

A tentative wail broke the ensuing silence.

'Oh my word, Jesus has been born?!' Sam exclaimed. 'Please can I go and look?'

'Of course you can,' her companion indulged her.

Sam got up and walked over to where Mary and Joseph were resting, avoiding the restless animals along the way. Alongside Mary, wrapped in cloth and comfortable on a bed of straw, lay the very tiny baby Jesus. He was contentedly asleep, apparently none the worse for his recent birth. Sam knelt down to study him closer, tears filling her eyes at the thought that she was witnessing such an important occassion. She then returned to their corner.

'What's going to happen next?' Sam asked.

'One day you will learn to be patient. But as for now ...' her companion put an arm around her shoulder, 'Listen.'

As Sam became quiet, she realised that there was quite a noise coming from outside the stable - for that is what it was. There appeared to be quite a crowd of people, chatting excitedly amongst themselves. Mary became restless and motioned for Joseph to go and shush the noisy crowd, lest they wake Jesus. This Joseph did, but as he opened the door, those outside instantly fell silent. A conversation ensued, the result of which was that those outside began to enter the stable to approach the little baby, kneeling humbly before him and bowing their heads in reverence.

The scene began to fade as Sam watched a young boy approaching the young family, holding out a newborn lamb ....

Song extract from 'In the Bleak Midwinter'

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Plans ...

A Christmas Medley - 14th December

A Little fir grew in the midst of the wood
Contented and happy, as young trees should.

'I'm going to be late back after school this afternoon,' Sam said to her mom as she was gathering her cases for school. 'We've been asked to go to the hall to try out our costumes for Saturday night.'

'That's fine,' her mom replied. 'I'm probably going to be late in myself, as I have to pick Billy up from playgroup, and they're also finalising their play.'

'Cool. Matt and I'll walk back together - that ok?' Sam asked.

'Sure,' her mom responded.

'Oh, are you coming on Saturday? I need to tell them, as they're having this party afterwards,' Sam asked. 'Please come.'

'I'm sure we'll all come. Dad has been mentioning that he wants to come too, so we'll bring Billy along. He'll enjoy it.'

'Great,' Sam replied. 'See you later, I'd better run.'

Extract from 'The Foolish Fir-Tree' by Henry van Dyke

Monday, 13 December 2010

Winter Wonderland

A Christmas Medley - 13th December

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We're happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland.

Judy broke of humming. 'I SO wish it would snow this side of Christmas. At least we'd then get some time off school.'

'Doubt we'll have any such luck,' Sam replied, looking over her shoulder. The trees in the park they were walking through were white with the freezing fog that had settled overnight.

'Yeah,' Judy agreed. 'It's just not fair. They're getting snowed in up north, all those kids getting days off school to go snowboarding, and we just have business as usual.'

Sam kicked a stone on the path into a nearby bush. 'Well, at least we get off at the end of this week. I, for one, am looking forward to that.'

'Definitely. How did you enjoy the ice skating on Saturday night? It looked like you were having a great time. I so wanted to come over when you slipped on the ice, but Matt was headed your way quicker than I could get there - and then I just couldn't get away from the people I was with.'

'It was so great Judy!' Sam grinned at her friend, remembering the night before. 'I was so embarrassed when I slipped, but Matt is such a great teacher. He really helped me to relax and ... wow ... skating is the best thing ever. Did you know that Matt's been skating since he was four? I had no idea!'

'I had heard that he was a good skater, but I didn't know he had been doing it for that long. I think he's maybe even been in a couple of competitions, something like that,' Judy answered.

'Well, we're going out for coffee tonight. Maybe I'll hear some more,' Sam said.

Song extract from "Winter Wonderland"

Sunday, 12 December 2010


A Christmas Medley - 12th December

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

Sam hummed along to the music as she laid the wrapping paper out on the floor. Next to her was a pile of presents, already wrapped, while those that were as yet unwrapped were waiting on her other side. She was inexplicably happy, and even the rainy day outside wasn't going to dampen her mood.

Reaching for the next present, her thoughts returned to the events of the night before, and the reason for them. She still wasn't sure what was going on, but one thing she was sure of - that God was telling her something. If only she could figure out what.

She was slowly realising that Matt was somehow going to be involved ... a fact that she would previously have rejected vigorously. Not that she welcomed the possibility, but she was more willing to watch and see what happened than she would have been even a week ago.

God was also beginning to feel more real to her than he ever had before. Her night time companion must surely be God, and she felt so privileged that he was bothering with the likes of her. Especially when she considered the last few months.

Bible passages from Isaiah 35:5,6a NRSV

Saturday, 11 December 2010

On Skates ...

A Christmas Medley - 11th December

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know...

'Hey,' Matt said, sitting astride his bike.

'Hey back,' Sam said, somewhat shyly.

'Here's your helmet. Put it on, and climb on back,' Matt smiled encouragingly, holding a helmet out for her. She reached out to take it, and then worked to put it on.

'Does it fit alright? Here, let me check.' Matt checked the straps, rocked the helmet - and her head - a couple of times, and then nodded in satisfaction. Wordlessly, Sam climbed onto the pillion seat, put her arms around Matt's waist, and hung on as he drew away.


Sam gripped the wall of the rink as she struggled to balance on her skates. She wished she hadn't said yes now. She could barely look Matt straight in the face after landing on her backside. He must be laughing right round the other side of his face, and at her. She couldn't bear it. She gritted her teeth and proceeded, making her way painfully slowly back to the gate, keeping her eyes trained on her feet, praying that they wouldn't give way again.

Skates skidded to a halt in front of her, breaking her concentration. She jerked her head upwards to tell the owner of the feet off to find Matt staring intently at her, a half smile on his lips.

'Hold my hands,' he said, holding them both out to her.

'Um ... but ...' she dithered.

'Don't you trust me?' He responded, acting a pout.

'I guess,' she responded shyly, putting her hands into is, shocked at how big his hands were compared to hers.

'Come,' he encouraged, skating backwards, pulling her into the middle of the rink.

Song extract from "White Christmas"

Friday, 10 December 2010

A Silent Wish

A Christmas Medley - 10th December

A silent wish sails the seven seas
The winds of change whisper in the trees ...

'Um, how's your day been?' Matt asked, swallowing nervously.

Sam tamped down on her annoyance to answer, politely, 'It was fine thanks, and yours?'

'Oh, mine was great,' Matt replied. Sam rolled her eyes. Here goes, she thought, and sure enough, 'I managed to get a tricky little problem solved in one of my projects that I'm working on for a client. Have you heard of Kinet Systems?'

Sam groaned inwardly. Not only was she walking next to him, but now he expected her to know about some stupid thing, a business maybe.

Barely managing to hide her frustration, she replied, 'Nope. I've never heard of them.'

'Well, I'll tell you more about them sometimes. You'll be impressed.' Sam bit her tongue. 'Are you going to the ice skating tomorrow night? If you aren't, would you go with me?'

Sam's heart beat a little faster in her chest, but 'I'm not going - I'm going to be busy.' Grudgingly she added, 'We're going carol singing at the care home.'

'Why don't you come along after? I don't mind coming to pick you up. You know I've got a bike?' Matt tried to encourage her.

Sam chuckled inwardly. How envious was she of his freedom on that bike, 'Can I ask my Mom and see what she says? I can let you know on Facebook in the morning?'

'Sure,' Matt smiled, pleased.

Song extract from "When a Child is Born"

Thursday, 9 December 2010


A Christmas Medley - 9th December

O grant us through our day of grace
With constant praise to seek Thy face;

Life's so unfair. Why is it me every single time. What do I have to do to have friends who remember me when something is going on. Sally, she knows how I feel about being left out of stuff, yet she's going and doesn't remember to ask me to go. Some days I wonder why I even bother to go out of the house. And why do I think I'm any good at anything? Argh! I could punch a wall, maybe the pain will help. But no, I sit here, practicing the piano like a good student, and they're all going to the skate party. Why, oh why?! It's just so not fair that I'm left alone in the evening. Yeah, I know that I'm going to the carol singing that night, but they don't know that. I should feel better because I'm already doing something, but it doesn't help. The fact is, I've been forgotten, yet again. What is it about me that makes people forget I exist? It's not like I'm any different to them? Judy, even Matt is going! Why him? He's weirder than I am! So what makes him get remembered, while I get forgotten. Even Judy shouldn't have forgotten me. How can she think that I'd not want to go, or not be invited, even if I were to say no. I've hardly seen her this week - she doesn't know about the carol singing. What type of a friend is she? I just wonder why I bother. I just get forgotten, every time. It's just no use anymore.

Song extract from "Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light"

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


A Christmas Medley - 8th December

Little donkey, little donkey
Had a heavy day
Little donkey
Carry Mary safely on her way.

A chill wind blew over her as surely as she felt a familiar blanket cloaking her. She found that she was sitting at a well in a dusty square, amongst flat-roofed, squarish buildings that looked like they were the same texture as the road.

So why are we here?' she turned to her companion, who was seated beside her.

'Watch, and wait,' he smiled at her. 'They'll be here soon.'

A short while later, she spotted some motion down one of the ... pathways ... between the buildings to their right. A figure walking alongside a beast, with another person sitting on the beast. They were stopping at each door and knocking.

'That's Mary and Joseph, isn't it?' Sam breathed, too awed to speak any louder.

'Yes, it is. And they're looking for a place to sleep.'

'Oh, I do hope that they find one,' Sam answered.

'Haven't you read The Word? Of course they'll find somewhere to stay. It's already happened.'

Sam was confused. Already happened? Here she was waiting for it to happen ....

'Don't miss this part. I always love this ...' her companion brought her attention back to the present ... past?

As Sam watched, she saw Joseph step up to another door and knock. This building was bigger than the other she could see from where they were sitting. The door eventually opened, light spilling out onto the pathway beyond, and over Mary, seated on the donkey. Now for the first time Sam could see how pregnant and tired she was. Her heart went out to her.

Joseph was nodding as he spoke to the person standing in the door. Then he moved away from the door and went to stand beside Mary, laying his arm around her shoulders. Sam could see their weariness in all that they did. Then the person inside came out, carrying a lamp with him. He turned to the left and walked along the building, towards where Sam and her companion were sitting. Joseph, Mary and the donkey followed him. Before it seemed they would reach the end of the buildings he turned left between them with the others disappearing after him.

'That inn-keeper's a nice man, to give them a place to stay - even if it's only a stable.'

'Yes, he is," her companion nodded. 'I made him like that, especially for this purpose.'

"And I'm glad you did," Sam admitted. But as she did, her vision turned fuzzy and the town disappeared from her sight.

Song extract from "Little Donkey, Little Donkey"

Tuesday, 7 December 2010


A Christmas Medley - 7th December

Here we come a wassailing
Among the leaves so green, ...

"The team will be singing carols at the care home on Saturday night," her Mom said. "Will you be joining us?"

"Ah man, do I have to?" Sam pouted. They were relaxing in the lounge; Sam was playing a game while her Mom read a book.

"Well, the old people loved you last year ... and they'll ask where you are if you don't come," her Mom replied.

"Yeah ... they like to pat me on the head and remind me how they remember me when I was knee-high," Sam said sulkily.

"Oh Sam," her Mom came and put an arm around her. "You know, when I was your age, they used to say the same thing to me. Even now I might occasionally meet someone who remembers me at that age - especially at the care home. So it's you and me both, you see!"

"Mmmmmm," Sam responded, thinking. "I guess it isn't so bad then. And I do enjoy the singing - and some of the old ladies are lovely. I think I'll definitely be there - so long as one of the ladies tells you that they remember you when they were knee-high." She smiled at her Mom.

Her Mom laughed. "There's the spirit!"

Song extract from "Here we Come a Wassailing"

Monday, 6 December 2010

Santa Claus?

A Christmas Medley - 6th December

... He's making a list and checking it twice;
Gonna find out who's naughty and nice ...

'I just LOVE Santa Claus. For me, he's part of what makes Christmas Christmas,' said Sam. She and her friends were in the study area of their school library, doing some research on Christmas traditions around the world for a class assignment.

'Sure, I can't deny that,' Jim responded, 'but he takes people's attention away from the real reason for Christmas - Jesus' birth.'

'You see, that's my point - I don't think that he does,' Sam replied.

Judy, who had been listening to the conversation, cut in, 'I'm curious - why do you think that?'

'Well, you see, I read a few years ago that the Santa Claus character is actually based on a real person,' Sam answered. 'His name was Nikolaos, and he was a Greek bishop sometime back in the first few centuries of the church. He became known for giving gifts to the poor and needy anonymously, asking for no recognition in return - and this is essentially what Santa Claus symbolises.'

Song extract from "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Don't Judge

A Christmas Medley - 5th December

... He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;

The rest of the readings, never mind the sermon, were lost on Sam. All she could think about were those two verses.

She knew that she was being unfair on Matt. And if she were to follow Jesus, then she needed to accept everyone around her just as they were, not judging them by her own senses. She needed to consider what Jesus thought of them - and she knew the answer to that one.

She sighed inwardly. Ok. So she knew she was being horrible. But how could she put things right? She had absolutely no idea.

Bible passages from Isaiah 11:3b NRSV

Saturday, 4 December 2010


A Christmas Medley - 4th December

.... Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King!

The rain lashed the windows as they relaxed in the lounge. Too bored to watch TV, they were both lying on the floor doodling on a scrap of paper Sam had found, while working their way through an album of Christmas carols. Mom had taken Billy out to visit a play mate for the afternoon, and Dad was down at the church, so they had the house to themselves.

'So you had to walk with Matt last night?' Judy asked Sam, glancing sideways at her.

Sam rolled her eyes. 'Yes ... I didn't have a choice. It was either walking with him, or not be in the play. I had to be there.'

Judy smiled, 'It was good to have you there. I'm really glad that you came. And you're an angel!'

'I feel so inadequate to be an angel, though. Judy, you should have seen them! They were ... indescribable!'

'You don't have to be the same as them. You never can be. But you can just be yourself. That counts more.' Judy said, understanding Sam's problem.

'I know, I know. I still feel really disoriented. I'm me, but I feel ... sort of ... different.'

'So ... What do you think of Matt, now that you've spent some more time with him?' Judy grinned.

'Judy! I probably know him better than any other person in school! He just ... annoys me! He's so ... gangly ... and ... '

'Sam, are you so sure you know him?' Judy reached over to hold her hand. 'I think there are a few things about him I know that you don't, and one thing is that he's crazy about you.'

'Ew! Thanks for letting me know!'

Sam felt rather embarrassed at her reaction. This dream she had had was sure making her change the way she thought about people. But Matt? No way! But then there was that man who had been in her dream. Somehow she knew she needed to do better. But how?

Song extract from "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"

Friday, 3 December 2010


A Christmas Medley - 3rd December

'Mom, can I go down to the church hall tonight?' Sam called from the lounge.

'What's happening there?' her Mom replied, 'And come through here to the kitchen - there's no need to shout.'

Sam got off the couch and went through to the kitchen, a spring in her step. She scooped her little brother Billy out of his chair, cooing at him. 'They're having a practice for the Nativity play, and I want to be in it. Judy told me that I can go along this week if I still want to be in it. Please can I go?'

'How are you going to get there? You know I can't drop you off or fetch you, and Dad's away.'

Sam felt her heart sinking. 'Can't I just walk there? It only takes twenty minutes, and it's well lit all the way.'

'I'd rather you didn't. Why don't you phone Matthew? I know he's in it, and I'd be happier if you were with him. He's such a nice boy.'

... He tried hard to help me
You know, he put me at ease ...

Sam's heart dropped to her shoes. She couldn't stand Matt. He just annoyed her. It didn't help that he lived just two houses down, or that her Mom was best friends with his. She thought about saying she wouldn't bother going, but then she remembered her dream. She hugged little Billy to her.

'Ok. I'll give him a ring and see if I can walk down with him. Thanks Mum!' She kissed Billy on the cheek, and handed him back to Mom. She still wasn't too happy at asking Matt to walk her, but if it meant her being in the play .....

... I wish I had a river
I could skate away on.

Extracts from River, by Joni Mitchell

Thursday, 2 December 2010


A Christmas Medley - 2nd December

'Hey Judy,' Sam greeted her friend as she found her sitting in the cafeteria at lunch time. 'How's your day going?'

'Oh, mine's ok,' Judy answered, clearing the table of her books so that Sam could join her. 'And yours'?

'Ok,' Sam shrugged as she sat down with her food, dropping her bag on the chair alongside. 'Actually, really weird.'

'Huh? How's that?'

'Well, you see, I had this dream last night. Actually, I'm not sure that it was a dream, really. You're going to think I'm mad,' Sam looked at Judy.

'Try me,' Judy answered, opening her hands in a welcoming gesture.

'Hmmm. I'm not sure I should even tell you,' Sam looked at her food, worrying over whether or not this dream was for her alone, or for her to share. She shook her head. 'Well, basically, I dreamt that I was with the shepherds in the Bible when the angels came to tell them about Jesus' birth. It was really strange, and really ... Judy, I think I was really there!'

Judy watched her friend. She had seen something different about Sam today. She seemed to be more at peace today than Judy had sensed for a long time. Whatever had happened last night, it was good.

... O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.

The words came unbidden to her mind, an old poem that she had read years ago. And with them, peace.

Extract from 'A Christmas Carol' by Chesterton

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

A Mountain Breeze

A Christmas Medley - 1st December

Day left as sleep claimed her heavy eyelids, drawing her into the world of the unconscious. It had been a long day, but ended with the satisfaction of a well-decorated house and Christmas tree.


She shivered as the cold mountain breeze flowed over her bare arms.

'Here, hold this around you,' a kindly man's voice said, and she felt a rough blanket being draped over her shoulders.

'Thank you,' she responded automatically, trying to gather her bearings. 'Where are we? And who are you?'

'So many questions?' the man next to her asked in return, smiling at her.

She took a good look at him. He had long hair, a long moustache and a long beard. All of his hair was grey, but he did not look as old as she would have thought he was, having grey hair. He was tall, well-built, with a weathered but kind, open face.

'Let's just say that I am a friend. This isn't the first time you've met me, and it won't be the last. But we digress. Watch.' And so saying, he gestured towards the valley in front of them.

As Sam turned towards the valley, the sky began to light up. As she watched, the diffuse light eventually coalesced into forms recognisable as humanoid. A sense of immeasurable peace flowed through her. One of the beings spoke, seemingly to a group of shepherds who were seated around their campfire just along the hillside from them. The being's voice thundered over the valley:

'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'

As the angel finished speaking, a countless number of angels joined those already present. Together they sang. These are the gist of the words that Sam heard that night:

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.

With a sigh of contentment, Sam turned to her companion, to find him gone. As she looked back toward the valley, everything faded into blackness ....

Bible passages from Luke 2:10-12,14 NIV