Tag Archives: Christmas

Shaken?

My smallest girl was so excited yesterday unwrapping our Christmas snow globes.  She gave each one a little shake before she found a place for them on the bookshelf and watched the swirl of white glitter surround the figures within.

This time of year is a bit like living in a shaken snow globe.  All the busyness of school plays and concerts, shopping, cooking and trying to get everything done is like a huge swirl of glitter celebrating yet surrounding and sometimes obscuring the message at its heart.

At the centre of my advent snowglobe there’s the extraordinary miracle of a newborn king laid in a manger, Almighty God constrained in weakness, a world changed forever.  I desperately want to celebrate it, to marvel with the shepherds at the miracle of the incarnation, to be soaked in the reality of God-with-us.

And yet there are days when all I can see is the snow, and however hard I try I can barely make out the outline of the new parents cradling my lord and my saviour. This postcard is exactly where I’ve been for the last few weeks, struggling to get a glimpse of Jesus through the snowstorm.

When I started to pray about this picture I was certain that God was going to talk to me about finding stillness,  about making space for the glitter to settle so that I can see clearly.  And that would no doubt be a great plan.  But I was wrong, he wanted to say something quite different –

 Know

Just know it.  Even when you can’t see it, know that he is there, at the very centre.

The shaking of our snow globes doesn’t remove the figures inside, just obscures them.

Know

This Christmas, even when you can’t see for glitter, know that he did invade the world that he created.  Know that he brought his Kingdom to Earth and that, in spite of all appearances, the increase of his government and peace will not end.

Know

Know that however much the snow globe of your life is shaken, and by whatever means, he will still be there. Even when it feels as though the world has been turned upside down and the storm is at it’s most suffocating – nothing has changed… he is still there.

And it is possible to reach out through the storm or the glitter and catch hold of him, perhaps as Jacob did -stubbornly refusing to let go until you get a blessing.

He is still there

 

 

 

 

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Bigger on the inside.

I don’t often dig out old posts out of the archives… But I think this one deserves another airing.  If like me you’re already drowning under tinsel, star-shaped cookies and costumes for the Christmas show, you might find this helps restore some of the wonder!

 

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If you’re reading this in the UK you probably don’t need me to tell you what this postcard is, or why I associate it with Christmas… but for those of you that aren’t:

This is the TARDIS. It’s from the long running UK TV show Dr Who and it’s a time-travelling spaceship. It’s become something of an iconic image and because of the unmissably excellent Christmas Day special episodes, it doesn’t seem entirely out of place in the jumble of jolly santas, cherubic angels and sprigs of holly.

Apart from that, all you need to know is this: It’s bigger on the inside.

On the outside it’s the size and shape of a 1960’s British Police telephone box (a regular sight on UK streets when this series started, ten years before I was born!), but on the inside it is apparently vast (there are even rumours of a swimming pool.)  Ask any Dr Who fan to describe the TARDIS and that’s what they’ll tell you – ‘it’s bigger on the inside’.

Think of how you would gasp in awe and wonder if you were to walk through that little blue door and discover that it is so much more than it appears to be.  Think of how you would run outside again to check and double check what you were seeing.  Think of how much your mind would be expanded!

Wow!

Awesome!

That really would be amazing.  To see something that so defied my understanding of how things are, how they work, of what is possible.  I’m pretty sure that I would be bursting to tell people about it but might also struggle to find the right words to describe how that discovery makes me feel…

All this reminds me of another image I associate with Christmas day:

A new-born baby.  Small, soft-skinned and helpless. Wrapped in a cloth and lying in a straw-filled manger.

And when I look, I hear God whisper,

“Can you see it?… Can you see what the shepherds saw, what the wise men travelled to see?”

“He’s bigger on the inside”

This is the extraordinary miracle of Christmas for me, perhaps even more amazing than the Easter-miracle of the resurrection:

Our God who spoke the universe into the existence and holds every part of it together; our God who said “let there be light” and who is the light;  our God who is infinitely powerful, infinitely wise, infinitely creative, infinitely loving, infinitely big; everything that he is is somehow contained inside that tiny cloth-wrapped package in the manger… Astounding.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him

Colossians 1:19

Take a moment today to let that sink in again.

Take some time to be awestruck,

to marvel.

and don’t be fooled by the tiny, helpless, sweet-smelling, soft-skinned baby in the manger…

He’s so much more than he appears to be.

Seriously bigger on the inside.

tardisfeat

A Christmas Card from Postcards from Heaven

I’ve been in conversation with God for some time now about what picture should appear on the front of your Christmas postcard… A scene of Bethlehem? Something tinselly? But no, this odd little bauble-bottle is what keeps coming into my head and there’s no getting away from it…

it doesn’t have a name, as far as I know it doesn’t even exist and I can’t imagine it would be useful, but Jesus often doesn’t follow my rules and I always eventually realise it is easier just to go with what I think he’s showing me! So this is it: A two-chamber bauble-bottle that holds more one type of liquid.

Christmas is just like this.. Christmas is a container that holds more than one thing..

I really love it.  I love the kids’ excitement, the preparations, the sense of specialness, the time with friends, the family traditions, the special food, the random animals in nativity plays and even the theologically-challenged carols.  I just love it.

and yet…

Yesterday was my Dad’s birthday, and this will be our sixth Christmas without him. And at this time of year, I miss him more than ever. I can’t enjoy our traditional family singsong without missing the sound of his voice, I can’t watch my kids in a recital without thinking how proud he would have been of them, and I just can’t do Christmas day without missing his energy and sense of fun.

And I’m guessing for many, if not most of you it’s the same. Along with the joy comes an acute awareness of what has been lost.

Christmas is a container that holds both joy and sadness, and somehow they can only be poured out together.

For me, it’s not possible to experience the joy without also walking through the sadness.  To not allow one of them to be released from the bottle would be to stifle the other as well.  And I really want the joy…

It seems to me, at this time of year, that the world is conspiring to show me a perfect Christmas.  One with perfect, complete families where no-one gets sick, or forgets anything, or worries about money or falls out over the rules of a board game.  Where teenagers leap with joy at the idea of a game of charades, the roast dinner is all warm at the same time, the whole family gather around the piano to sing carols (in four-part harmony) and above all, no-one feels sad, not even for a moment.

It’s not true of course, there is no ‘perfect’ Christmas.  It’s just another impossible standard for me to fail to reach. Not everything has to be perfect anyway, and I suspect that the fact that the joy always comes mixed in with sadness just makes me normal.

For those of you who are similarly normal: Know that God understands.  He understands great joy and deep sadness.  And he reaches out to carry you through both.

So on this festive postcard I will wish you a Happy Christmas, but because that on its own doesn’t seem quite real enough:

This Christmas

May you have enough joy to soften your sadness

Enough peace to calm your storms

and enough hope to look up into the eyes of the Saviour of the World and to find yourself covered by his love.

Bigger on the inside.

If you’re reading this in the UK you probably don’t need me to tell you what this is, or why I associate it with Christmas… but for those of you that aren’t:

This is the TARDIS. It’s from the long running UK TV show Dr Who and it’s a time-travelling spaceship. It’s become something of an iconic image and because of the unmissably excellent Christmas Day special episodes, it doesn’t seem entirely out of place in the jumble of jolly santas, cherubic angels and sprigs of holly.

Apart from that, all you need to know is this: It’s bigger on the inside.

On the outside it’s the size and shape of a 1960’s British Police telephone box (a regular sight on UK streets when this series started, ten years before I was born!), but on the inside it is apparently vast (there are even rumours of a swimming pool.)  Ask any Dr Who fan to describe the TARDIS and that’s what they’ll tell you – ‘it’s bigger on the inside’.

Think of how you would gasp in awe and wonder if you were to walk through that little blue door and discover that it is so much more than it appears to be.  Think of how you would run outside again to check and double check what you were seeing.  Think of how much your mind would be expanded!

Wow!

Awesome!

That really would be amazing.  To see something that so defied my understanding of how things are, how they work, of what is possible.  I’m pretty sure that I would be bursting to tell people about it but might also struggle to find the right words to describe how that discovery makes me feel…

All this reminds me of another image I associate with Christmas day:

A new-born baby.  Small, soft-skinned and helpless. Wrapped in a cloth and lying in a straw-filled manger.

And when I look, I hear God whisper,

“Can you see it?… Can you see what the shepherds saw, what the wise men travelled to see?”

“He’s bigger on the inside”

This is the extraordinary miracle of Christmas for me, perhaps even more amazing than the Easter-miracle of the resurrection:

Our God who spoke the universe into the existence and holds every part of it together; our God who said “let there be light” and who is the light;  our God who is infinitely powerful, infinitely wise, infinitely creative, infinitely loving, infinitely big; everything that he is is somehow contained inside that tiny cloth-wrapped package in the manger… Astounding.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him

Colossians 1:19

Take a moment today to let that sink in again.

Take some time to be awestruck,

to marvel.

and don’t be fooled by the tiny, helpless, sweet-smelling, soft-skinned baby in the manger…

He’s so much more than he appears to be.

Seriously bigger on the inside.

tardisfeat