Glad tidings!

One of the down sides of being a parent it seems to me is the constant list of things you are suddenly supposed to be good at- climbing trees, baking, making food, creating things with bits of paper, entertaining other kids, making stories sound exciting, and patiently listening to lots of stories about things you are not interested in without sounding bored. I think that’s why we compare ourselves to each other too much. You think, if I was more like that mum then I could organise a fundraiser, or if I was more like that mum, I’d be great at cooking and the list goes on. I don’t remember doing this particularly before I was a parent, but I’m sure I did a bit.

Basically envy is the only one of the seven deadly sins that isn’t all that much fun. It’s easy to let your schadenfreude about other people’s sorrows make you think more positively about your own life, or to be secretly thrilled when someone you didn’t get along with, turns out to have problems. It’s harder to be thrilled for someone who got a promotion instead of you..

I did a prayer tonight with one of my children and listed all the things we have to be thankful for, they responded with, well mummy you’ve missed lots of things out! I think that’s probably the case most of the time.

Christmas is all about the opposite of this, wishing others well. Celebrating the joy in the world, not just the bits that affect us. Giving generously and sharing our lives is also a good way to enjoy ourselves too. Feeling miserable about someone else’s achievements isn’t a great place to be. Spending time in contemplation alone, whether following mindfulness or meditation or prayer I find a really good antidote to this at any time of year, but I’m especially conscious of it at Christmas. Writing is one way that helps me.

So a very happy Christmas to anyone who’s ever read this blog, and thank you so much for all your glad tidings over the last few years, it’s meant alot to me that people keep reading this. I am praying the joy and happiness of the arrival of the baby Jesus will in some way remind us all of the good things in  our lives, and help share the blessings out in some way.

 

 

Bethlehem

Micah 5 v2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times”

Only 21 sleeps to go.. so exciting in our house. The best bit about being a parent is seeing the world through the eyes of our kids and remembering what we loved to do. Like everyone else though I struggle to balance how much to spend on them, and how much to buy. It’s so easy with all the special offers to get more than you meant to and to forget about charitable giving or supporting local community organisations at this time of year. I’ve just bought two piles of poo from oxfam as a gift for some unsuspecting relatives, who frankly have everything they ever wanted in life already in their homes!

In the Christmas story, Mary is waiting to give birth, so she was maybe resting, wondering what this baby would be like, and what would happen next. I love it now if I’m early for something and I get to wait for 5 minutes, or sit on a train and stare out of the window. I like watching my kids play, (although this is tricky as I usually get roped in). My time is so scheduled and busy, I now see this as a treat! I don’t know why I don’t “schedule” more waiting and watching time, but it definitely helps me chill out.  That’s basically what the Advent period should be about.

Jesus’s arrival is pointed to through the old testament, and it’s only in Luke’s gospel where we hear about the stable in Bethlehem. John however goes through the genealogy to show how Jesus is directly descended from the legends of the old testament through his father Joseph. Bethlehem is not only famous as the birthplace of Jesus, it gets a few mentions in the Old Testament, so was a special place for the Jews in some ways.

Bethlehem today is quite a large town, very close to the West Bank so security is tight. I remember visiting as a teenager, being shocked that Israel wasn’t full of rolling green hills! We had to go in a taxi as hire cars were not advised to go there unaccompanied. Bethelem of our nativity plays is real, in that the sense that Jesus is well documented as an actual person who was born there. It’s the baby that was special though, not just the place.