There ain’t no lettuce? Does this mean certain death? Apparently so. Tell you what, I’ll get in the car and drive to the supermarket and queue up with a hundred others, breathing in their viral loads in exchange for mine. Lettuce, lettuce, we must have lettuce. What would Christmas be without it? Forget ‘A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse’ because horses are everywhere. There’s three just down the road and a whole stables full of them up the road and two donkeys (which are nearly horses) live in a paddock overlooking the beach. Bill Shakespeare? What rubbish! He might have known all about battles and kings and that sort of stuff but where are his salad tragedies? Or even his salad comedies (because being British we smile through our tears)? Or his salad romances? Foolish Bill.
Are you as fed up with the hysteria and melodrama as I am? If I see another critique of the Government, one more word of whinging protest, one more ill-informed expert chuntering self-righteously on about conspiracy and the tier system and mutations….. I may have to kill someone. That would involve breaking social distancing so, to avoid the blood and mess, and some busybody reporting me to the rozzers, I’m not going to watch the news, or read the paper from now until Boxing Day.
There! Let’s see how long that resolution lasts.
Hey – it’s nearly Christmas! It’s jolly nearly Christmas! Yesterday was the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere, or maybe just in this bit of it. I can’t work these things out. Does that mean it was the longest day in the Southern Hemisphere? Who knows? But never mind all that – the point is, it’s nearly CHRISTMAS!
I watched an advent talk on RightnowMedia the other day, and it was very good – a clear and personable speaker with some inspiring thoughts, but he kicked it all off by linking the time we celebrate Christ’s birth with the fact that it’s winter. The speaker stood in front of a classic North American barn, in snow (maybe fake), and said “Winter is the time we set aside for our celebrations… the darkest part of the year… and this is intentional because …..” What? Intentional? We chose to celebrate the nativity in December because we get snow? Hang on, Sunshine, think about it – you’re speaking to us from Canada or America, where the snow may well be falling, but it’s also Christmas in South Africa, where it’s the hottest time of the year. We can be very parochial here in the northern hemisphere, as if there is only one culture – ours! I look at the countries where this blog has been read (39 so far) and I wonder about you all, from the US to China, Nepal, Bangladesh, The Philippines…. all over. What do you make of my burblings, I wonder? Are my English idioms strange and sometimes unfathomable? Or is it just that the British people are strange and unfathomable? When you read that there’s mass panic about lettuce, do you roll your eyes and shake your heads at our stupidity? If so, good for you. We’re a daft lot.
When I think of you, I pray for you. Sometimes I pray over one country, sometimes over my older readers, sometimes I pray for those of you who read only to improve your understanding of the English language, but mostly I pray for all of you because God loves you. I’m praying now.
Today I started my Christmas countdown. Each morning this week I’m going to read Isaiah 53 and then turn to one of the Gospels for the Christmas story. I think that this will be the perfect balance, joy but not giddiness, sorrow but not despair, birth and death and resurrection, prophecy and glorious victorious fulfilment. Today, after reading Isaiah and thinking about ‘a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief’ (sometimes you can’t beat the King James translation) I went to the Christmas story in Matthew. I like the way he puts his cards on the table right away, saying “This is how the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, came about.” It’s a chatty sort of introduction, isn’t it? It invites us to mentally pull up our chairs, pin back our lugholes and drink it all in. And right there, at the top of the story, we have the statement ‘Jesus, the Messiah‘ and I sit at my table with my bible open and I just marvel! Isaiah and Matthew, 800 years apart, both witnesses to the greatest story ever told.
That’s a good start to any day. Isaiah and Matthew and me.
If I look back to the year when I came to faith in Jesus, I remember the two huge steps leading me to him – one was the thought of Jesus in Gethsemane and the other was the inherent oneness and authority of the Bible. When those two thoughts came together, I surrendered and by his grace believed. It was life changing to realise that, as Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, everything that was about to happen to him, the arrest and torture, his death and even the post-mortem piercing of his side with a spear, was all foretold. But the heart breaking thought that links these two truths together, the Bible and the crucifixion, is that it was with a prophecy from Isaiah that Jesus began his ministry. He quoted Isaiah directly 8 times, and indirectly many more. A good Jew, Jesus knew the prophecies, he believed them, and still he walked towards the temple guards that night in Gethsemane.
He walked towards them for you and me, just as he was born, the Creator of all things, helpless, for you and for me.