Bah Humbug?

Two things.

I love Christmas. Really I do. I love warm mulled wine, the taste of warm spicy apple, Christmas decorations, good will to all men – and all that. I love the fact that the combination of Christmas and New Years is a ready made excuse to catch up with friends and family. I’ve not even mentioned The Doctor Who Christmas special…

Also. Even with its bag full of faults, I also love the Church. A group of people trying to live like Christ? When it goes well, it’s one of the most beautiful things to be part of.

So. Why do I get particularly bored of Church at Christmas? I don’t mean the church I go along to, I mean the whole lot. When I say “the whole lot”, I mean the the carol services, the readings, the carol services, nativities, and more Carol services.

I just can’t help but find approx 6 services with the same readings and same old tunes a tad on the predictable side.

I’ve not even got started on “Away in a Manger” or the lyrical contents of other Christmas Carol tunes… Thinking about it, are there any Christmas worship tunes?

Well…

What advice do I have for anyone else who may also feel the grumps about Christmas? Simply put. Find a way to engage with the Nativity. Be it by watching the latest high budget non glossy production on TV, following either someone like @natwivity or @sofachristmas, following a reading plan on YouVersion, or simply just read it for yourself in the Bible. Let’s face it, we all ‘know’ the story but how much could there be that we’ve missed? Or forgotten? After all they say it’s the greatest story ever told and when we really ‘get it’ it probably is…

Engage with it the way you can, then get back to church. Because even through it feels predictable, that can be what people are looking for at this time of year.

Over to you.

  • What do you think of the Church at Christmas? Is it predictable or special?
  • Do you also have an attack of the “Bah Humbugs” during particular Christmas Carols?

The Original Christmas PhotoBlog

A long time ago… Well last Easter, inspired by the Easter Live event hosted by Share Creative, we presented an Easter Play starring members of the Star Wars Universe. Where members of the Rebel Alliance, and the Evil Empire joined forces to tell the Easter story.

Yes it was crazy, but it was good fun. It also inspired us to maybe do something for Christmas…

Inspired by comments at #cnmac11 inviting us to “tell a story”; we’ve decided to do exactly that, and tell the Christmas story through using a photoblog.

Our aim is to go some way to answering: If Christmas happened now, in modern day England… What would it look like?

Join us, either at the Christmas Photoblog website, or follow it on Twitter.

What was Tony Jordans: “The Nativity” about?

Well. Its been and gone, but what was Tony Jordans: “The Nativity” all about?

Easy Answer. The Birth of Jesus

Was it really?

You have the Magi, Herod, Elizabeth and the whole cast but the script seemed to really draw out two characters; Thomas and Joseph. Two guys struggling with faith. Thomas  has a simple job as a shepherd. He believes in God, but struggles with money, work, health, and finding his place in the world.

While Joseph, in my opinion has the biggest story of them all. A little shy and perhaps a little unsure of himself we see him fall in love with the girl he’s been dreaming for, we see how much he misses her when she was gone, and we see his heart break. We see him question, we see him run, and we see him return.

A few days ago I commented to @iccleanne, that the Church almost seems less human around Christmas time. Worship becomes about predictable carols, sermons almost become guessable, the whole Church thing at Christmas… I cant help but sometimes feel its scripted…

The Nativity reminds us of the humanity at the centre of Gods heart.

Even if Mary is wrapped in Blue by the end…

Watch on iPlayer.

Why Christmas?

Christmas.
Its a mad time really, full of dashing around making sure everyone is happy, but have you ever wondered about some of what we do at Christmas, such as:

  • Why do we have Christmas Trees?
  • Why bother sending Christmas Cards to each other?
  • Who on earth is Father Christmas anyway?
  • Where did this all start?

The WhyChristmas website aims to answer these questions of the season and many more, and worth checking out.

How to find a carol service

Want to find a carol service?

Maybe you fancy a chance to do something traditional, eat some mince pies, sing a few carols by candle light, or something?

Well if you’re in the Exeter area then you have www.findacarolservice.com, yes the picture is a little cheesy, yes there is  bug in the database (put a space in your post code – or its odd), and no my own C of E church isn’t in there… oh and there seems to be a church called NULL…

…but I do like the idea.

(With hand tip to the mouse.)

Weekly Round Up: The Better Then Last Weeks Edition

Right. After last weeks attack of the downer. Heres this weeks roundup:

In the Blogging world, Sara Batts looks how she see’s herself verses how people see her in church, while in the week that England drop out of a world cup before it even begins Jon Butler looks at sports fans in the Bible. On a Christmas theme; Richard Littledale asks preachers if they focus on both joy and suffering at Christmas time, looking at suffering, Bishop Nick Bains asks if Christians are suffering from a persecution complex?

And lastly… A brother asks “Wheres Molly?”

The Guinness Care Trust Christmas Pay Saga: The Bishop Speaks

The Exeter Guinness Care Trust Christmas saga seems to be rolling on with the Exeter Bishop stepping into the “action”:

In an unusually strong statement he said: “This is a cynical use of the equality agenda to exploit care workers who are already often among the lowest-paid in our society.

“Care workers carry out a hugely important role in the life and health of our communities and are already poorly rewarded for what they do. To deny them the opportunity to be with their families on Christmas Day, and to fail to properly reward them for that sacrifice, is to further exploit them.

“The company, Guinness Care and Support, speaks of ethics and equality, but I don’t think it is at all serious about either.

“Its policy prioritises the non-religious over the religious. A policy of true equality would recognise the importance of Christmas Day and Easter Day for Christians and allow other workers to nominate two different days to reflect their own faith, or other commitments. The company is trying to hide its Scrooge-like meanness behind the language of equality.”

While The Church Sofa lads generally tend to not agree with the Bishop, this time around with do agree that the Guinness Trust does seem to be hiding behind “equality” in an attempt to simply not want to award their staff. One thing that he does seem to take for granted is that people are being told they have to work on Christmas Day, without being given any other option. Hopefully the Guinness Trust are showing some Christmas Spirit..?

The Guinness Trust and Christmas Pay

Well here’s one for people. (From the ThisIsExeter website)

“The owner of eight city care homes is refusing to pay staff extra for working on Christmas Day and Boxing Day – because it said it cannot recognise one religious festival over others.

Guinness Care and Support said it had an “ethical belief in equality” which meant it did not favour Christmas over other religious celebrations and cannot pay staff extra for working them.

It said it only paid bonuses for bank holidays, which rules out Christmas Day and Boxing Day this year because they fall at the weekend.”

“One member of staff, who asked not to be named, said they were stunned by the announcement: “We have learnt that senior head office management have decided that all staff who work on Christmas Day and Boxing Day will be paid standard flat rate wages with no bonuses whatsoever.

“The management themselves are on two weeks’ annual leave. It has come as a shock and left us all stunned.””

Mick Green, senior human resources manager for Guinness Care and Support, said he appreciated the hard work of staff who will keep the homes running throughout the festive period.

But he said: “We would like to make our position on pay clear – we have a strong ethical belief in equality and diversity and are unable to recognise one religious festival over others.

“Our policy is not to pay extra when staff work during a religious festival.”

Many many questions here:

  • Is this a case of people wanting a Christian Religious holiday recognised, or do they just want to be paid more?
  • Are there going to be any Christmas decorations up anywhere?
  • If someone belonging to another faith wanted to take a day for religious reasons, would that be refused?
  • Is there anyone involved with Guinness Care who feels pressured to work on Christmas day?
  • Or is this case of management (who will be on holiday) not wanting to spend any extra money on staff, and not simply coming out and saying so?

UPDATE: The Bishop of Exeter has realised a statement following up on the above.