Monday, December 7, 2009

Advent and Christmas: carols and the big wait

I've got a terrible illness which is preventing me from doing most of what I want to do; in other words, in man-talk, I've got a cold. I've been suffering as conspicuously as possible in front of Maxima and the girls, but getting no sympathy. Sometimes I think I'll never understand women...

Alzheimer's Society: click to go to the websiteOne of the things I'd wanted to do was go over to the Grassy Old Fen for the annual Service of Carols and Lessons in aid of the Alzheimer's Society, but felt really bad. In addition, the atosphere of mild hysteria that has surrounded the swine-flu outbreak has effectively ostracised everybody with anything more than the sniffles, even though in a parallel outbreak of common sense the Archbisclick to go to Bosco Peter's blog on the no-touch Communin dispenserhops of Canterbury and York have reintroduced Holy Communion from the Chalice. And not a moment too soon: the Revd Bosco Peters was astounded when news of a no-touch Communsion Host dispenser turned out not to be a joke in bad taste but a real product.

Still, over here in the Draughty Old Fen we still have a Service of Carols by Candlelight to come, which I'm looking forward to. It's good not only to sing songs looking forward to the feast of Christ's birth, but to touch a part of childhood with which those songs are linked that seemed - perhaps not without justification - to be a better time. So it was disappointing to hear that the Bishop of Croydon has denounced traditional carols as nonsense, embarrassing and "Victorian child control", in the sorNoah: the Rainbow Covenantt of negation of one's culture that makes it all the easier for those who wish us harm to tighten their grip yet further the reins of power.

We also have an excellent Advent course being put on by St Gallicus' parish by Rector Pellegrina and Musica, the Parish Assistant, and based on the theme of waiting. We've been through the covenants of the Bible, like God's "Rainbow Covenant" with Noah and the Covenant of the Heart spoken through Ezekiel. We've also been through the Binding of Isaac and the story's prefiguring of somebody else who would climb a hill witclick on the detail to see the full picture on Godzdogzh wood on his back but would not walk away; and the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, indicating what kind of person that would be, if not exactly Who.

There was also an examination of secular sayings involving waiting that Minima, the youngest person there who was thrilled to be told she was an honourary adult, enjoyed. Especially when we came to "a watched kettle never boils", which Minima, in her wisdom, said was true, that the electric kettle seemed to boil quicker when she frogot about it and put her mind on more important things, like High School Musical.

I had to challenge this, and told her about a time in the mists of the past when we didn't have such luxuries. Once, mindful of the saying, I put the kettle on the gas cooker and sat down and watched it until it boiled. Then, just as I was contemplating success, my Mum came in and asked what on earth I was doing sitting watching the kettle.

It made Minima and a few others laugh. And I was glad about this, because the secular time in which Christmas is set is so full of forced bonhommie and warmth that we are in dire need of the real thing. Many people find it a hard time, because for a fortnight it becomes societally unacceptable bah humbug!to say you feel rubbish or that you want people to leave you alone, and possible the less religious one becomes the more guilty one is of this. In Cambridge, if you have mental health problems, most of the services for us that haven't been closed for good are on holiday or reduced hours, so it's really good to be part of a family where I'm allowed to slope off for a while if I feel awful. And out of the house, I must admit I do revel somewhat in the epithet of "bah humbug": it's good to be grumpy.

So when it comes have a happy Christmas, and before then have a good Advent. It's an excellent season to become acquainted with something we're all involved in: the big wait.


  1. An apparently fervent Christian coworker once criticized me for being grumpy after having come in through especially rude and nasty rush-hour traffic. His theme was, don't complain, no one cares. (Trouble with that was, I didn't care whether anyone cared! I also thought to myself, "And you're a Christian?" Wrong of me? I don't know.)

    Another apparently pious coworker stopped me every time I interjected a personal note into a conversation, saying "No one cares" - not meaning himself, but "Don't talk about it - it'll get you in trouble". (I suspect that fellow feels that no one cares about his own troubles, tho'.) I thought about both incidents and decided if it got mentioned again I'd say, It's not that no one cares. It's that no one cares as much as we want them to. And maybe no human being CAN care as much as we really want them to. Only God can do that. And do we care about others' troubles as much as they want us to? Food for thought....

  2. I (think I) see what you're saying - seemingly pious types are not always what they seem. Personally, I find that if I am grumpy at work, people come to respect me for being what I seem. There seems to be a conception that to "care" requires one to be touchy-feely, whereas those types are often the most superficial.

    May I ask for you and Linda's prayers for a good friend of mine - to whom I frequently refer as "Professor Calculus" - who's had a bad fall and has been taken into hospital tonight?

  3. I will pray for your friend.

    Re the office, it can help, in some ways, to work in a small one. There are about 500 people in my building. There's good things about that, and there's bad things about that. More people to get to know, but you don't get to know them as well.

  4. Yes, you have my prayers as well.
    I am having the same trouble with "Christians" and it has been part of my struggle and 'journey'. Beating the dead horse 'holiday' thing on my blog was getting much off my chest about Christians brow beating others because they don't mind saying or hearing 'holiday'. I even lost a Christian reader over my posts about it! Handling rejection, even of a 'stranger' is not one of my strong points.
    You know, the three of us ought to live within walking distance for coffee or tea. ;o)

  5. Pam - I have a bit of an idea what you mean, having worked in various hospitals; but there you're not expected to know everybody. I think I'd find it quite difficult...

    Linda - I think you handled the thing about nomenclature very well, well done!

    I'd hope every so often we'd be having something a little stronger than coffee or tea! :-)


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