Advent Firesiders


It might seem a shade self indulgent to write a reflection about reflections but this is, I think, a necessary recursion to point out that these reflections are not sermons, neither are they exegetical nor spiritual exercises. In a previous age when people gathered round fires they would have been firesiders but coffeetablers doesn't quite catch the mood. I hope they are much of the sort that Garrison Keillor still delivers every Saturday afternoon on National Public Radio from Minnesota: a little folksy, a little quaint, a little philosophical, a little ornery or what we would call quirky.

I decided to produce three of these per year for a house group to see if we could get ourselves out of the Christmas rut and begin to see it just a little differently. For many of us the Christmas season takes on a frenetic and sometimes irksome routine: we buy things for people we don't like; we spend more time in the kitchen than we would wish; we watch the predictable television like moths drawn to a candle; we share our sofas with people we can't abide. All in all it can be a bit of a struggle, worse for being predictable. After all, if we knew what was going to happen to us life wouldn't be worth living. Consider how you would feel if you knew you were going to die in a horrible car crash three years from now; you would figure out a way of dying differently. I am not saying that Christmas is that bad but the predictability does tend to make us prepare meticulously for our grievances and then settle on them with a set face.

Of course we will be urged that this is a season of love but that is a totally different kettle of fish, or dish of cold turkey and stuffing, from liking people; but I hope that these reflections will help us to take some of the predictability out of what should be a joyful occasion. Personally, I apply my general rule of life to Christmas with an iron hand; we never do the same thing three times consecutively because that establishes precedents which are hurtful to break. If you always have Auntie Jane and she's a pain, share her every third year at least. I am sorry to say that at this season of goodwill, many family members run determined freeloading campaigns, explaining why they can't possibly have Auntie Jane. Don't be bullied. Auntie Jane is as fed up with you as you are with her but neither of you will admit it; and the family members who go away every Christmas to avoid having Auntie Jane are quite rich enough to take her with them, which she would enjoy much more than your very average and predictable cooking. An Alpine view and a spot of cod dressing up makes a world of difference to an indifferent roast potato.

We're all simultaneously too frenetic and too lazy about this second most important festival of our year; we need to shake ourselves up; so, that is the last paradox; these reflections are supposed to excite not calm. Oh, and by the way, don't you think that the King's College sound is just a tad predictable these days? How I long for a sackbutt!


Please select a section:

  1. Art (2005)
  2. Music (2005)
  3. Journeys (2005)
  4. Ecology (2006)
  5. Generosity (2006)
  6. Typology (2006)
  7. Differentiation (2007)
  8. Symbols (2007)
  9. Inclusion (2007)
  10. Prologue (2008)
  11. Father (2008)
  12. Son (2008)
  13. Spirit (2008)
  14. Waiting (2009)
  15. Hoping (2009)
  16. Arriving (2009)
  17. Luke i (2010)
  18. Luke ii (2010)
  19. Luke iii (2010)
  20. Luke iv (2010)
  21. Childlike (2011)
  22. Protest (2011)
  23. Snow (2011)
  24. Generous (2011)
  25. Carols i (2012)
  26. Carols ii (2012)
  27. Carols iii (2012)
  28. Carols iv (2012)
  29. Tradition and Today i (2013)
  30. Tradition and Today ii (2013)
  31. Tradition and Today iii (2013)
  32. Tradition and Today iv (2013)
  33. Tradition and Today v (2013)
  34. 2014
  35. Trump-it Blues (2016)
  36. What Are We Going To Do about Christmas? (2016)
  37. Talking Turkey (2016)
  38. What The Dickens? (2016)
  39. Shepherds (2016)
  40. Favourite Things (2016)
  41. SOS for Advent (2017)
  42. Reverse Advent Calendars (2017)
  43. Christmas isn’t for children! (2017)
  44. Family affairs (2017)
  45. Begone, dull care (2017)
  46. Saving Advent (2018)
  47. Grow Up! (2018)
  48. Goodbye to Christmas Cards (2018)
  49. Goodbye Father Christmas! (2018)
  50. Reforming Christmas (2018)
  51. Unoriginal Sin (2019)
  52. Community Christmas (2019)
  53. Scrooge's Comeback (2019)
  54. Dusters (2019)
  55. Goodbye (2019)