Sunday, 26 January 2014

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #27Tanka

Jesus on Lake shore
Sees fishermen at their nets
Calls out "follow me"
Come and be fishers of men
They followed right there and then

(This is inspired by the gospel passage Matthew 4:17-23 when Jesus calls his first disciples.  The image are crafts the kids made at God Squad when we thought about this passage this morning. )

A tanka poem is a Japanese poem with two extra lines than the haiku.  These five lines have a grand total of 31 syllables which take the form 5,7,5,7,7. The tanka is also be known as a waka or uta.

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #26Sonnet

Please plait my hair
All tiny teeny
So that when they're in
I'll look dreamy
I know you can do it
It'll please me
I'll sit really still
Let's try and see

OK love
I'll give it a go
How it'll look
I don't know
Stop moving please
Or I'll have to go

Why have one sonnet when you can have two.  This second form of sonnet comes from Italy and is a discussion of eight lines followed by six lines.

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #25ShakespeareanSonnet

Oh girl of mine
I feel such pride
To see you cycle
From my side

Don't look back

Don't topple round

Keep looking straight

Stay off the ground

I didn't think
I'd ever see
You cycling off
Confident, free

I'm filled with joy
Go forth, enjoy

A Shakespearean Sonnet is a poem dating back to the days of William Shakespeare.  The sonnet expresses thoughts, emotions or ideas in a mere 14 lines of three quatrains and a final rhyming couplet.

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #24ShapePoem

Along the top you walk alone
And                                    Then
You                                       Fall
Down                                   Fast
You                                    Reach
The                                  Ground
Bump                               Thump
But at least you're home at last

A shape poem both describes and builds a shape; therefore a poem about a triangle would be in the form of a triangle.

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #23Senryu

Choices for a dad
Eaten whole in one bite or
Slapped on the bum

The Senryu is an unamed 17 syllable poem from Japan which typically deal with human rather than nature (haiku) subjects.  The line structure is 5,7,5

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

#31PoetryFormsIn31Days #22Rondel

Animal of the savannah
Unsaddled and free on the plain
Out there in heat haze and flood rain
Eating grass, your own form of manna

Your favourite flower is the canna
Only found after downpours of rain
Animal of the savannah
Unsaddled and free on the plain

Found through Kenya and Ghana
Alongside the storks and cranes
Central Africa is your sole domain
Not found on the fields of Guyana
Animal of the savannah

The rondel poems comes from it's French meaning “little round”.  The poem always has 13 lines with two four line stanzas (quatrains) and a five line stanza (quinte) in the following rhyming pattern:


A repeated
B repeated


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

#31PoetryFormsIn31Days #21Rondeau

You are such an imposing sight
If we see you should we flea or fight
We stand watching you in awe
You could knock down our door
Yet still we stand rooted to the floor

As we watch we are filled with delight
You see us as we're standing in the light
Perhaps it is us who are poor
Why do we always need so much more

We'll leave here today, out of sight
Drive off to our lives through the night
You'll be secure behind your door
Until tomorrow when you'll see more
Of us longing for freedom and delight
Knowing it's there for us, there in the light

The rondeau poem is 15 lines long with each line having eight or ten syllables.  The lines are arranged in three stanzas — the first with five lines (quintet), the second with four lines (quatrain), and the final with six lines (sestet).

Monday, 20 January 2014

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #20Riddle

Four legs
Stout tail
Brown fur
No trail
Stands still
Runs fast
Quick fights
Family lasts
On guard
No fear
Look around
Relax dear
Hot sand
Cool home
Food stored
Ancient dome
Who am I?
Shout and yell
Look below
It will tell

A riddle poem is exactly what it sounds; it teases the reader to guess the subject of the poem.  It may rhyme, or not; with a set rhythm, or not.

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #19Pantoum

Striped orange tiger
Sleeping in the sun
Watching all movements
Not wasting time to run

Sleeping in the sun
So still and yet alert
Not wasting time to run
But do you dare to flirt

So still and yet alert
Not missing any trick
But do you dare to flirt
With this tiger where he sits?

The pantoum poem is an ancient Malay form of poetry of four line stanzas where lines 2 and 4 of one stanza are used as lines 1 and 3 of the next in a continuing pattern.

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #18OttavaRima

Red Panda I call you up there in that tree
You seem to be sleeping curled up so tightly
Or are your ignoring all of them and me
Can't you come down here for all us you to see
Red Panda I beg you I'm on bended knee
Must we wait here always, is that your decree
Please can you release us, that is my sole plea
Then we will leave you alone, we will flee

An Ottava Rima poem is Italian in origin which stems from the same base as Octave, meaning eight notes.  This poem has eight lines of eleven syllables each, each one rhyming.

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #17Ode

perfectly hidden
patterned as grass
but here on a rock
a sight I can't pass
intent on your watching
light on your feet
my eyes can not leave you
I'm glued to my seat
marching like soldiers
waiting stock still
children are gazing
they think you are brill

An Ode is a celebration of someone or something using similes and metaphors, often in the style of a song.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #16Limerick

There once was a lemur in Marwell
Climbed really high and never fell
One day from a tree
He leapt himself free
Now he works at petrol station shell

A limerick is usually funny, possibly even nonsense, with a strong rhythm.

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #15Kyrielle

You're a pygmy hippo
Your belly lies quite low
Round, smooth and lovely
More to you than we see

Fueled on many grasses
Despite your short paces
You can run at speed
More to you than we see

Skin shiny and oily
Natural sun screen
Designed per-fectly
More to you than we see

A Kyrielle poem is made up of four line stanzas with each line having eight syllables and the last line repeating in each stanza:


#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #14Kennings

Black White
Lean slight
Leg power
Bed Tower
Fruit meal
Cheeky steal
Fifth limb
Tail spin
Island home
High roam
Leap spin
Loud din
Fly loop
Family group

A Kennings poem is a series of two word phrases which describe someone or something .

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #13IrregularOde

Three little monkeys
Sitting on a branch
Ignoring us watching
Firm in their stance
Turn round will you please
All the kids are crying
One turns and smiles
Happy kids for miles

An Irregular Ode is a celebration of someone or something with a rhythm and a repeating rhyme designed by the poet. 

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #12HoratianOde

Giraffe so tall
I admire ALL your height
That you do not fall
Is our complete delight
With your neck so long
And your legs so thin
Your shape is a mystery
But it can't be wrong
Your design is the thing
That makes you a great beauty

A Horatian Ode is all about celebrating someone or something.  It should have rhythm and rhyme in the structure:

Abab cdecde

"Oy fatty, don't shake our house down"

On Thursday morning I was out on my fifth ever run (to be precise it's half walking and half an attempt at running).  I was pushing myself and finding it hard but feeling proud of myself for doing something positive when ......

"Oy fatty, don't shake our house down"

I reckon the builder who shouted this thought he was being funny.  I bet the guys he was with laughed. I wouldn't be surprised if this funny tale of his was the giggle of the pub that evening. But I bet he has no idea how it made me feel. 

That one simple comment shook my world. It made me doubt myself, and I do enough of that every day.  It made me hate myself, and I work hard not to do that.  It made me question my endeavours, again. And luckily he didn't see it, but it made me cry and I hate myself for allowing those tears to be wasted on a complete stranger.

Luckily, at the end of my run, I was going to see a wonderful group of women who held me, heard me, loved me and put me back together.  But what if I'd have been heading home, alone with my thoughts and his words in my mind?  Then things would have escalated into a mighty beast of self loathing, doubt and despair.

I'm used to being stared at and jeered at and hearing nasty comments; it's normal for me.  Even when I'm clearly doing something to change my life I'm a target for verbal abuse. This is what it's like being am overweight woman in this country. 

Did you know this?
Have you ever witnessed it?
Do you think it's right?

Maybe not, but no one ever thinks to stop it.   Because it's socially acceptable, but why is that?  I think it's because obesity is seen as a self inflicted problem, not something that those living with it have to struggle with and against every day.

I've known I'm fat since I was a toddler.  I've known it was my fault since before I went to school.  Yet I now know it couldn't have been my fault at that young age; obesity is a condition I live with.  A mental health condition as severe as anorexia and a physical condition which massively inhibits my life.

I'm making changes; have been for five years and believe me it's a long long process to recover from obesity.  perhaps I never will; perhaps no matter how healthy I become I'll always be the person who lived with obesity for forty years.  You see the journey needs changes to the head stuff and the physical stuff and the social stuff. 

I'm determined to recover from my unhealthy life and thanks to an amazing new charity called HOOP (helping overcome obesity problems) I know this will happen. 

Sunday, 12 January 2014

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #11Haiku

Five toed hunter
Goes searching undercover
Rainy day printer

A haiku is a Japanese poem which uses the fewest words to express love and connect with nature.  A haiku consists of 3 lines and 17 syllables:
Line 1 – 5 syllables 
Line 2 – 7 syllables 
Line 3 – 5 syllables 

Friday, 10 January 2014

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #10FreeVerse

Have you ever run?
Nor I, until this week
Can't even remember running
Round the field or through the trees
Cross Country runs were torture
Until I learned to hide
Coming out at the end
Using brain still coming last

For all the years from then to now
I've never felt the urge
Never even wondered why
Thought others were absurd
In that time my legs forgot
How to run without fall
All that remains, a nightmare
Of going no where at all

But now I'm trying again
Mostly I think I'm mad
But perhaps this will teach me something
At least I'll know I've tried
Three times a week I'm out there
Trying to pick up feet
Trying to catch my breath
Trying to get more fit

I hope to learn to like it
I aim to run 10k
I've months to build myself up
Bit this ain't child's play
What if I push too hard
Or don't push hard enough
I'll try to stop worrying
Just keep going out doing my stuff

A Free Verse is literally free.  It may rhyme or not; may have a set rhythm or not. It is free.

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #9Epigram

Player of words
Walker of lines
Outside lines, beyond words

Nosey neighbour
Sharing widely

Saver of society
Society's poison
Kill or cure

God's follower
Hands and feet at work
No job

An Epigram is a short poem with wit or satire at its core.  It can be as short as a single line but usually is a couplet (two lines) or quatrain (four lines).  This is the equivalent of a comedians one liner or a politicians sound bite.   The name derives from the Greek word ‘epi-gramma’ meaning inscription. 

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #8Epic

Spit spot

Not a lot
Splash dash
Run in fast
Can't take more
Rise tide
River wide
Car stuck
Out of luck
River high
Rushing by
Stay and sit
Loud shout
Don't try to get out
You'll be fine
Truck here
Have no fear
Water fast
Rushing past
Door closed
Confusion exposed
Panic more
Must cut door
Sit back
Avoid attack
Water in
Time is thin
Pull out
No time to shout
Man safe
Thanks to fire brigade

An Epic poem is literally that, epic.  It is a long poem with depth of subject and meaning often incorporating heroic events.

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #7EchoVerse

I need to go to the shop
What is that which stops me in my track?
I have no strength to attack and fight
I delight not nor see a way to beat you
I can't pursue I must stay here

An Echo Verse literally includes a rhyming echo word in every second line.   Usually the last echo line is the title to the poem.

Monday, 6 January 2014

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #6Diamante

                      Sleek, quick
        Swimming, seeking, hiding
Ducking in weeds, hunting the shoals
        Spying, smelling, searching
                      Sharp, alert

A diamante poem takes the shape of a diamond when it is written down.  It is 7 lines long with the following set form:

Line 1: First subject
Line 2: 2 adjectives about subject 1
Line 3: 3 verbs about subject 1
Line 4: 3 words about subject 1 then 3 words about subject 2
Line 5: 3 verbs about subject 2
Line 6: 2 adjectives about subject 2
Line 7: Second subject

I'm giving up doubt

I'm giving up doubt
That's my task this year
I'm giving up putting myself down

I'm giving up doubt
Trying to overcome fear
It's too long been making me frown

I'm giving up doubt
"But how?" you might say
It'll definitely be a force of will

I'm giving up doubt
Starting from today
And here is what's on the bill:

I'll learn to run
I'll eat as my plan
I'll start forgiving myself

I'm giving up doubt
Do you want to try?
Why don't you challenge yourself!

The "new" Church of England baptism service

There have been a plethora of articles, good and otherwise, about the "new" Church of England order of service for baptism.   Here is the BBC version:

Today I saw a debate on the Facebook page of Premier Christian Radio and had to wade in after reading a lot of comments which didn't even seem to understand the facts.  I decided this comment of mine might be useful for others; so here it is with my thoughts and experience against the issues being claimed. Here for your enjoyment and discussion are the points others raised and my responses. 

1. The CofE is dumbing down the service
In my opinion this is not a dumbing down; this is an improvement in the way we communicate with those coming to our churches for baptism.  It's about communicating our faith more effectively.  It's also worth noting that this is not particularly new!  This proposed order of service is closer to the traditional (pre 1990s) service of baptism than the one we're currently using.  

2.  Non believers shouldn't be allowed to have their children baptised
Both the CofE and the Catholic Church baptise infants (as well as adults) and the biblical reasons for this could be the subject for another dozen or so blog posts.   I'd recommend for some very scholarly articles which are readable and clear on the subject. Childhood baptism (also called christening) is available to families who are not part of the church membership.  But let's be very clear - being a member of a church is not a requirement for being a Christian.  The vast majority of the families who come for baptism are Christians or seekers who are separated from "church" but not from God or their faith.   

But even if non Christians are asking for baptism then surely it is not for us to decide whether they are "good enough" or "right" for baptism.  God knows these families and we, as disciples of Christ, are called to help God in His misson.  Who are we to judge who believes and who doesn't; who knows God and who doesn't?  Who is hoping they're good enough to be loved, or not.

More than that, the process of baptism (including meeting the family before and after) often result in the families coming along to other Sunday services, messy church services, toddler services or holiday clubs.  In turn these often lead to the families finding a home at church which they otherwise wouldn't have encountered.  

3. Infant baptisms are all about the party
Not in my experience. If families want a party then a party they can have; they can even hire the church hall.
Why would families go through the process of finding their local church and speaking to the vicar and meeting the vicar and going to church just to gave a party?  That is far from an easy thing to do for anyone outside the church. 
When a family comes looking for a baptism then you can guarantee they are looking for a baptism; even if they find it hard to vocalise it any better than that.

And perhaps we should be the ones thanking these families for their discipleship; after all, when wad the last time families inside the church brought 100 of their unchurched family and friends into Church?

The baptism order of service is an opportunity for sowing of seeds, outreach into the community and nurturing of faith. 

Don't let Blue Monday get you down

Don't let Blue Monday
Get you down
Give it love
Smile don't frown
Add red to blue
Purple you'll create
Think of the happiness
You can make

Sunday, 5 January 2014

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #5Cinquain

Chill out
Do not worry
There is nothing to fear
Just sit down and relax a while

The cinquain poetic form was created by Adelaide Crapsey. It is a five line, non rhyming poem with a prescribed number of syllables per line:
Line 1: 2 Syllables
Line 2: 4 Syllables 
Line 3: 6 Syllables 
Line 4: 8 syllables 
Line 5: 2 Syllables

The messy story of Abraham #messychurch

Many years after Noah and the great flood there was a man named Abraham.  Abraham was a good man and a rich man with lots of sheep and cattle. He was married to Sarah but they had no children. 

One day, God came to Abraham  and said “Pack up everything you own and leave your home.  I will bless you and your family if you go to the land I will give you.  I will be with you always and because of you all families on the earth will be blessed. “

Abraham was 75 years old which made this an even more scary thing to agree to do.  But Abraham trusted God and took Sarah and all of their animals to the land of Canaan as God had shown then.

Many years later, when Abraham was even older, God appeared to him again.  God said “Do not be afraid! I will look after you! I promise that I will give you a great reward."

Abraham said “What kind of reward will you give me? I don't even have any children!”

God replied “Look up at the stars in the sky. You will have a son. He will have children, and his children will have children, and they will have more children, and one day they will be as many as the stars in the sky.”

Abraham asked his this could be when he and Sarah were so old.  But God repeated His promise that Abraham would be the start of a great nation.  God promised that because of Abraham all people on earth would be blessed.

Abraham believed God's promise, and his faith made God happy.  It was Abraham's faith in God and His promise that made things right between Abraham and God.  Sarah did have a son and Abraham became the father of many descendants who all trusted God.

Today we are going to explore what it means to trust God and follow God.  We will make stars to remind us not to be afraid and cards to give to other people reminding them that God is looking after them.  We will make a joint picture of stars, each named for one of us; and we will play with paint to make star night pictures.  We will also try to draw out our family trees remembering that if we could go far enough we would connect with Abraham and that we are all loved by God.

If the church had a new years resolution........

The wonderful pioneers at CMS asked this question on New Years Day and I immediately wrote:

To stop worrying so much 
about how to survive
and start doing more
to help others thrive.

This phrase came without conscious thought; it was clearly an "of God" sentence and one which has stayed with me through the last week.  I've tried to improve or perfect it or create a poem around it but nothing comes of these efforts.  So instead I've decided to share it here.  Why change what works.

What would your new years resolution for the church be?

Saturday, 4 January 2014

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #4BlankVerse

Broad bean of mine so large you grow this year
Your skin bright green looks soft yet rough to touch
What taste will you give me if I you cook?

Can you forgive my act if I serve you?
Broad bean of mine I long to taste you now
If raw perhaps will you forgive me more?

And if I don't then how long will you live
Without your leaf you age and so will die
Broad bean of mine enjoy your fate on plate

Broad bean of mine you were so good to eat
Such depth of taste you gave me here today
Your home I'll tend and grow some more next year

A blank verse poem has lines of five sets of two syllables.  It's a poem without rhyme, instead the focus is on the rhythm or pemtameter which mimics the heartbeat :
de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM

Friday, 3 January 2014

Chill out zone

I can't believe she's this age
No longer a little child
Out grown toys and play things
Luckily not yet running wild

She's only eight years and a bit
Yet sometimes she seems much more
The things she'll come right out with
The way she says "it's such a bore"

Just look at this her playroom
Now a chill out zone
At least for now I'm allowed in
She's not yet demanding time alone

Thankfulness Jars

These are our thankfulness jars
Places to remember we're great
A jar for Rach and one for me
Great to open if we're in a state

These are our happiness jars
We'll fill with joys we see
Some we live and some we hear
I'll put some in hers from me

These are our jars of hope
To open only when we say
Reminders of the wonderful things
Like rainbows on rainy days

Do you have a jar of joy?
A place to store the best
Give it a go, what you got to loose?
Go on, put it to the test

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #3Ballade

What a relief it's Friday
The end of a working week
It may only have been two days
But the weekend's still a treat
Coffee, papers and comfy seat
Time to visit with a friend
Makes relaxation compete
Oh how I'm looking forward to the weekend

What a relief it's 5pm
Time to relax at last
Should I choose a spa called zen
Or a walk around castles past?
Whichever it is don't be aghast
About this I can't pretend
Saturdays aren't for rushing fast
Oh how I'm looking forward to the weekend

A Ballade poem has a strict rhyming pattern and form of three stanzas and an envoi.  Each of the stanzas should follow the rhyming pattern abab.  Whilst the envoi follows bcbC.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #2Ballad

They met online
For hours at a time
Afraid to meet
Each stayed in their seat
After months had past
They found bravery at last
Agreed to dine
A pizza was fine
He came with flowers
She prepared for hours
Together in one place
They gazed into each face
Shy in meeting
Their date was fleeting
Back home that night
They agreed with delight
That love online
Was more sublime
Many years passed
They met again at last
This was the last date
No more online late
Now living together
They will love forever

A Ballad is a rhyming poem that tells a story, often a love story. Many songs could be more accurately described as ballads.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

#31PoeticFormsIn31Days #1Acrostic

Poetic forms are fickle
Often losing shape
Either over fangled or
Terse as masking tape but.....
I really like to dabble in
Creations using words so....

For this month
Of January
Meet with Rhymes

An acrostic poem uses the first, last or other letters to spell out a word or phrase.  The most common form uses the first letters of each line as in the example above. 

Strikingly bright

Under blue skies

Never look at it directly

                  my Life
                 my Ministry
                and Calling
          whilst bAlancing
       my mentaL health
       and racheL mothering
              sometImes funny
           usually Not
.this is my bloG read it or not






Rounded with







World Aids Day All Age Sermon 011213

Matthew 24:36-44

“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[a] but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day[b] your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.


Hope, Peace, Joy and Love Advent Gifts

Props – box wrapped in non Christmas paper with four pieces of paper inside numbered envelopes with Peace, Joy, Love and Hope in large letters on each.

Show the box and ask what it is
Christmas present?

It looks like a Christmas present doesn’t it.  But it’s not.  

It’s an advent present.

What do you think might be inside? (
take suggestions)

Let’s look.  I need 4 volunteers to come and open it with me and show everyone what’s inside

Let the children open the envelopes and watch their faces – disappointment?

That’s not what you expected is it?

Do you feel a bit disappointed?

It’s not exactly fabulous presents you might expect is it?

Or is it?  We might as well look at them anyway.



Peace; we share the peace every week in Church.  We share the peace that Jesus shared with his disciples.  We share the Peace of God with each other and we go out into our lives ready to share it all week long.  It is something God wants us to do.  When we know peace and feel peace and share peace then we share the pure truth of God.



Joy; this is more than just happiness.

This is the joy of love from God and love of God.  This is the joy of knowing that we are loved entirely; as Jesus tells us in the gospels.  This is the joy in knowing that Jesus came and lived and died for us.  This is the joy that we want to share because it’s so awesome.



Jesus came as man because God loves us so much that He wanted to know what it was to be us.

Jesus died for us because he loves us that much.

We are loved.

We are called to love others.



This fourth present is the present of Hope.

Hope of a good life.

Hope of being loved.

Hope in the dark times.


Let the children sit down



All over the world, there are children and grown-ups who have lost all hope in their lives.

For one reason or another, life is so hard that sometimes it feels like the whole world is against them.  When things are that bad, hope becomes really important.  Hope is everything.

Hope is a great present; a wonderful present.


Today is both the first Sunday of Advent and World Aids Day.

Today is the day we light the first candle of the advent wreath; the candle associated with Hope.  And today is a chance to think about what HOPE means for those living with HIV.  


It is estimated that 34 million people are living with HIV. In sub-Saharan Africa, about one in five adults is infected with HIV.


You’ll see in the displays in church today that there are four key parts of support for people living with HIV; these four parts make the word HOPE.


There is Health and Healing

This is both the practical and emotional support of doctors and nurses providing the advice, care and medicines to those living with HIV.  It is also the prayerful healing that I saw being given to those living with HIV in Zambia; the prayer itself and the compassion being poured into communities from churches.  They receive Hope through the anti retrovirals and through prayer.


There is support for Orphans.

Terrifying numbers of children in Sub Saharan Africa are orphans; having suffered the loss of one or both parents (and many others members of their family) due to Aids.  These children often look after younger siblings as well as themselves with minimal family support.  I saw the work being done in Zambia in feeding these orphans, educating them and supporting them through child sponsorship programmes.  These orphans have hope; through practical and emotional support from the churches in their communities.



There is Prejudice but there Education to battle against it.

HIV and AIDS throws a family into a world of darkness and fear.  Hope can be provided through the work of churches but this Hope is halted when those living with HIV, or suffering bereavement due to HIV, are treated badly because of the way other people treat them.  Programmes of education about what HIV is and how it is spread and how it can be managed are so important in our country and across the world.  When people know the facts then they can have Hope.


So I wonder; what does the Bible have to say to us about HOPE

I want to read you verse 13 of Romans chapter 15. Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.


In Romans Paul boldly identifies God as the God of hope.  In our world it can be too easy to think of God as being far away; this is not so for people in Zambia.  In Zambia I met families ravaged by HIV yet full of hope.  Families with almost nothing to eat; yet sustained with Hope.  Children with no toys or beds; yet comforted by hope.  

God is a God of Hope.  


As we light/see the first advent candle lit today we are reminded that God is Hope.

Hope in our hearts.  

Hope in our lives.  

Hope to be shared.

Hope to be nurtured.


God wants us to open our hearts to hope.

He wants us to take that hope and build on it and share it.

If we take one thing out from church today let it be that God wants us to share His Hope; bringing hope, joy, peace and faith to others

Christmas Cracker Sermon 251213

Christmas day 2013

I’ve got something with me this morning to show you, but I want you to guess what it might be.

- It’s something you only get at Christmas.
- It's colourful and fun.
- You might have it on your table at Christmas dinner.

Any guesses?
Show the cracker.

It is, of course, a Christmas cracker.

But this is no ordinary cracker.
This is a Christmas cracker with a tale to tell!!

In order to tell this tale I'm going to need two fairly strong volunteers.  
Pull the cracker.

Look inside and pull out the joke


Does anyone know what might be on this simple piece of paper?

Does anyone know a cracker joke they'd like to share?

How about There were 2 snowmen in a field, one turns to the other and says, “can you smell carrots?”

Or What sort of pizza does good King Wenceslas like? Deep pan, crisp and even.

Or What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?  Tinsell-itis!

So how does this cracker joke tell us anything about Christmas?

Well the joke is meant to make us laugh.  

And the laughter represents joy; the joy that Jesus brings to the world.  

The joy of His love and care for us all.


On the other side of the piece of paper is something else.  A fact, or a factoid to be more precise. This also has a part in the Christmas tale.  

This factoid represents the facts of Christmas.

The fact that Jesus was born to ordinary people in an ordinary place.

The fact that his first visitors were outsiders; shepherds from the hills outside town.

The fact that wise men from a far off land saw signs of a new King and followed a star.

The fact that Jesus was born, lived and died as told in The Bible.

Facts that we celebrate today.

What else can we find in the cracker?


A hat or possibly, a crown!  A Crown for a king.  But which King?  There are three in the Christmas tale.

First there are the three Kings who travelled across continents to visit Jesus with presents for a king.

Second there is King Herod who tried to stop the story in its tracks.

Third there is the new born King;


Jesus the King of Kings.

The king to save us all.

Jesus the King whose kingdom we pray in the Lord's Prayer to see come on Earth.

It seems like this cracker has given us enough doesn’t it.

And yet there's something else in this cracker.

Does anyone know what it might be?
Take suggestions



We get a gift.

And in this cracker, to be honest, it’s not the greatest gift ever is it?

But it does have something to tell us about Christmas.

Yes, even this piece of plastic has something to tell us about Christmas.


This is a free gift and at Christmas we celebrate another free gift.

In fact we celebrate the best free gift ever.

This is the gift of Jesus himself.

The best present we could ever receive.


And how do we receive this fabulous free gift?

We just have to ask,

that’s all,

just ask.

Jesus, can we be your friend, part of your family?

And the answer is always, let me repeat that, always, yes!

Yes!    Yes!

Jesus wants to be our friend,

our confidant,

our counsellor,

our guide,

our protector.

And not just at Christmas.
This free gift of Jesus is always available;
no limited time offer;
no buy a gift and get this one free,
no buy now and pay in twenty four months’ time.

Jesus is the gift given for every single one of us every single day for free.

So what is this gift called Jesus?
Jesus is God come to earth to live as a man.

Jesus lived a human life with all its frailty and suffering and mistakes.

Jesus knows what it is to be in a family, to be a child, to grow up, to toil, to care, to live as one of us.

Jesus knows life's ups and downs; its joys and sorrows

Jesus understands us completely.

That has to be the best gift ever.

To be a friend of Jesus who completely knows what we are on about, because he lived it too.

When we wish we could take back the stupid thing we said in the playground.

To be side by side with Jesus when we feel alone or scared or lost, as he was sometimes.

When we are ill or grieving or lonely or just plain confused about what is happening in life.

To be loved by Jesus who knows we makes mistakes and wants to help us when we do.

When we miss the Christmas deadline at work, or forget to buy a present in time to post to great aunt maud, or insult a friend who thinks the Christmas jumper looks amazing.


But even more than that……

To be known by Jesus and guided by Him every time we ask.

Today, tomorrow and every day of this year and every year to come.

So when you go home and sit at your table with the crackers remember what it's all about.  


Jesus the free gift.

Jesus with no expiry date.

Jesus the king who is always available.

Jesus beside us every day, the good ones and the bad.


Happy Christmas.