Doodlebuzz gets my vote as another cool news aggregator. A bit buggy on Firefox for me this morning but worked ok on Safari. I love the low tech feel of it and the artistic touch. Check it out.
Jonny Baker and friends [and me] have developed a series of downloadable Christmas goodies. This Advent resource for your church worship is called "Nine" because there are 9 of them and it will cost you 9 pounds, which, at the current pathetic exchange right now, isn't very much at all if you are buying it from another country
Its finally here and our 5 kids are all excited. Its a very American Christmas morning here in our home in Scotland. Debbie is making her Kentucky mother's Christmas raspberry turnovers and sausage souffle. We splashed out and bought Amy Grants new Christmas album with an Amazon gift from Debbie's sister Pam, from Oregon, because its not Christmas without Amy - dont care who you are! Coffee with double cream for my Christmas treat. And soon we will open presents and expect a few visitors during the day. One lass will join us for the day because she lives by herself and Christmas is not a day to be lonely.
Hope you have a great day. Peace of Christ to all.
Its Christmas Eve again and I just borrowed a book from the public library about the most famous Christmas Eve ever . . . since the original one two thousand years ago. In 1914, on Christmas Eve, a truce was called between the English, French and German soldiers at certain parts of the Western Front. They stopped shooting each other, exchanged cigarettes, wine and sausages, played football, sang songs, and took photos with each other. Heres a few quotes and images that stuck out to me in the book "Meeting in No Man's Land: Christmas 1914 and Fraternization in the Great War", Faro, Brown, Cazals and Mueller.
"I was standing on the firestep, gazing out towards the German line and thinking what a very different sort of Christmas Eve this was from any I had experienced in the past . . .
There had been no shooting from either side since the sniper's shot that morning, which had killed a very popular young soldier in our company named Bassingham. But this was not at all unusual.
Then suddenly, lights began to appear along the German parapet, which were evidently Christmas trees, adorned with lighted candles, which burnt steadily in the still frosty air! Other sentries had, of course, seen the same thing, and quickly awoke those on duty, asleep in the shelters, to "come and see this thing, which had come to pass". Then our opponents began to sing "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht". This was actually the first time I heard this carol, which was not then so popular in this country as it has since become. They finished their carol and we thought that we ought to retaliate in some way, so we sang "The First Nowell". And when we finished, they all began clapping; and then they struck up another favourite of theirs "O Tannenbaum". And so it went on. First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until we started up "O Come All Ye Faithful" the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words "Adeste Fidelis". And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing - two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war." Rifleman Graham Williams, page 29
"Thus, amid the bitter realities of trench warfare, with all its squalor, a Christmas song had worked a miracle and had thrown a bridge from man to man." German Crown Prince Wilhelm
"There has been a certain friendliness between our men and the Germans in the trenches. Christmas Day was looked on mutually as a peace day and both sides went out freely in front of their trenches and buried the dead which were still lying out in the fire-swept zone - Germans looked very clean and smart - Put on their best clean clothes for the occasion I fancy - They conversed freely and exchanged cigarettes . .. " Lieutenant General Sir Henry Rawlinson, Dec 27th.
" . . . if we had been left to ourselves, there would never have been another shot fired. We were on the most friendly terms, and it was only the fact that we were being controlled by others that made it necessary to start shooting each other once again. " Major Murdoch Mackenzie Wood, Gordon Highlander
"The Christmas Truce of 1914 was striking because it was seen as an exceptional phenomenon. More than any other day of the year, this day was holy - but it was accorded no official recognition from either Church nor Army, and the truce was a spontaneous soldier-led movement." Page 157, comment by the authors
There are many more stories and quotes from this amazing event but what struck me most was the potential for peace and reconciliation, even in the midst of a gruesome war. The kind of deep, true peace, that can only come through focusing on the Prince of Peace, whose birth was announced with angels praising God saying, "Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth and goodwill toward men." Luke 2: 14
Happy Christmas everyone!!! Peace of Christ to you all. Thanks for reading and tracking with our journey this year.
Christmas celebrations have already started in our house. Next week will be another cruelty-Free Christmas, like we did in 2006. Cooking has begun. Like last year, I have made a Christmas Ale, with ginger and fruit. Not as much pepper this year so its a little sweeter. We have some friends from Germany coming up on the 27th - Wolfgang Simson and family - so we will extend our Christmas long enough for them to enjoy with us.
Our Christmas tree came in from the cold. Its a little bigger than last year and a little browner but life is coming back to life. Good Christmas service this morning at the local. My youngest daughters were Joseph and Mary. My mothers gifts from Australia have arrived and the grandparents in USA have given some money for us to spend on the kids.
Just to give you a peek into one of our secret projects. A few weeks ago we bought an overlander - or at least a potential overlander. Its a 1987 Iveco Magirus Deutz - air-cooled engine, 4x4, diff lock, high clearance, 3-point pivot body, etc. Just what one needs to drive across the Sahara or around the Arctic Circle - both ideas having crossed my mind recently.
It needs a lot of work but when it is finished, it will be our Great Commission Go Anywhere Pilgrimage vehicle for our travels in 2009 - which involve being in about 20 countries from Turkey to Ukraine to Portugal . . and North Africa. Eventually, we would like to drive it all the way across to India and Asia. Still trying to figure out the visa problems for my American wife to get into Iran so it looks like Europe and its fringes for the next year.
Should make for some interesting blog posts.
We are spending the Christmas holidays fixing it up. Very exciting. Today we were cutting up plywood for the beds and couches. I already found some old Transit van windows for £20 each and they should be in next week. We don't have enough budget for solar panels just yet but are hoping to add them later on. I will start up a special blog for the truck soon.
So if you live in the Eurozone, and are feeling called into the new things that God is doing, let me know when we get near your city and lets hook up, even if your town or village is really hard to get to [we like a challenge]. Even better, plan to be at the Christian festivals next year (Slot in Poland, Freakstock in Germany, UpFest in Ukriane, Greenbelt in UK, etc) and look out for our tall skinny expedition vehicle.
Yesterday I went to the yearly bird auction and bought a dead goose. It still has its head on it and I will need to stick my hand inside it to rip out its inards [is "inards" a word?] but at least its dead. At least I dont have to drum up the courage to go out and kill it. And at least it's not going to get away!
If you followed my blog last Christmas, we bought a fabulously fat goose which was very much alive and kicking and happily living with the chickens in our back yard. We called her "Christmas Dinner" because she had a special purpose, all things working out, that would be realized a week later at the dinner table. However, our plans were thwarted. A few days after settling into our back yard, and pretending she was fattening herself for our festive season, Christmas Dinner made a desparate escape to the water, got adopted by a family of swans, and ended up in the newspaper as a local hero. Thus . . . we did not have goose for Christmas whatsoever but ate lamb instead. Good lamb . . mind you. Very good and cooked slowly on an Aga wood stove.
But this year, I have played it safe buy buying an ALREADY DEAD and INESCAPABLE goose that is now hanging in the shed out the back. I wont even give it a name.
Parables of a Prodigal World give the Top Ten Emergent/Missional/Post-Evangelical Posts of 2008. I had decided to post a link to this BEFORE I noticed myself on the list. Worth a look.