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A new year

Recipe for a Happy New Year. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anonymous

Take twelve fine, full-grown months; see that these are thoroughly free from old memories of bitterness, rancor and hate, cleanse them completely from every clinging spite; pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness; in short, see that these months are freed from all the past—have them fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of Time.

Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot this way) but prepare one day at a time.

Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work (some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavour of the rest), hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, rest (leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad dressing— don’t do it), prayer, meditation, and one well-selected resolution.

Put in about one teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humour.

A New Year’s Prayer

May God make your year a happy one!
Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes;
Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy to travel any path;
Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking fear from your heart;
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows;
Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you when people and their causes need you most,
and by making you anxious to be there to help.
God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead.


May God’s blessing be with you all in 2011.

And thankyou, paxtonvic readers who ever you are, for logging on so often. I hope you find things which are helpful and fun in your journey through life.

December 31, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

An ancient Epiphany Prayer

Just come across this anceint prayer for Epiphany – glorious words…

Stars cross the sky,

wise men journey from pagan lands,

earth receives its saviour in a cave.

Let there be no one without a gift to offer,

no one without gratitude as we celebrate the salvation of the world,

the birthday of the human race.

Now it is no longer, “dust you are and to dust you shall return”, but,

“you are joined to heaven and into heaven you shall be taken up”.

Basil the Great (AD 330 – 379)


Thanks to the for this lovely prayer.

Its a great site – take a look if you have time!

December 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Now now, thats not cricket!

Aussie captain Ricky Pointing arguing with the empire during the fourth ashes test in Australia – and for that he will loose 40% of his match fee.

Quite right too – just ‘cos they are loosing….

I might try and tune in during the night if I cant sleep and see how its going…. it would be fantastic if we pull this one off and bring the ashes home.

Its Tuesday morning now – and I should have said retain the ashes, as if we win this test, we might still loose the fifth test and the series would be drawn. In which case we retain the ashes. Simple really.

I did listen a bit as I woke up with a tickly cough and couldnt get back to sleep for a while.

Right, I’m going to do a bit more sorting at parish admin HQ – the blue bin is waiting for me!!

December 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Sorting out

Nothing like it – bring the blue recycling bin into the house and start having a blizz on paper and other blue bin stuff. Its great fun – especially  when you put the bin half way across the study and try and throw the stuff in! Very therapeutic.


I did find at the bottom of a pile a Christmas prayer – and as its only the third day of Christmas ( the three french hens havent arrived yet) it seems apt to post it – love the words.


Lord God

As a mirac le of humanity and love

As a word that makes people free

Your Son has come to us

And where he comes

Life is no longer dark and fearful

We pray that he

may come to life among us here

That we may not be caught in confusion and fear

Beseiged with doubt and discord

But that we may be filled

with faith and courage

simplicity and peace

This Christmas time.


Might be easy-ish to pray this prayer when life is relatively okay -but  even with the greatest faith, it may be very hard to feel its authencitiy when great tragedy and sorrow is part of ones life. The news bulletins remind us of the tragedy of the young girl who has been found in Bristol after awful days of her family waiting for news of her. I cannot imagine what they are going through.

I was wondering that as I tried to preach on sunday feeling  rather groggy with  a cold and not 100% with it. But I was aware of the east window glass and the image of Mary looking up at Jesus on the cross. Amongst its treasures of humanity the Christian faith has a mother who was devoted to her son for 33 years and yet lost him in the most barbaric way – and watched it happen.

May we pray that out of all tragedy there comes redemption and healing- even if we cant see it or feel it on this earth.


December 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A blessing with reindeer headgear

The blessing of the feast…..

I hope all paxtonvic readers have had a lovely day…..

I have spent a few minutes looking at the readings for tomorrow morning, and I must admit that Id rather not be thinking right now about Herod and the slaughter of innocent infants… infact much as I love church, Id rather be having a rest tomorrow…. but its juts how the days have fallen.

Time for some rest!


December 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A sermon for Christmas

Here is my offering for Christmas 2010….. as often happens, I take my lead from  the simplicity of children…

Sermon for Christmas 2010

The Little Blue Star.

“The Eskimo has fifty-two names for snow because it is important to them; there ought to be as many for love” ( Quote by Margaret Atwood)

I wonder what names you have been giving to the snow this year. Some think its pretty, I’m sure people living in parts of the country badly effected by it will have given it names not repeatable in church. I expect words which have little to do with love have been given to it by those stranded at airports for hours on end this last week. Like the snow, we will all have different views about Christmas too – depending on who we are and what deal life is handing out to us at the moment.

A year or so ago I remember reading an article about how some Vicars felt about Christmas – and the run up to it. It was headed “ Frosty Priests make moan”.

It described how some clergy  get so worn out by an excess of carols, nativity plays, visiting and mince pies that they just cant wait for it to be all over. Bah Humbug was the name one clergyman in Brighton gave to the festival.

I haven’t done a lot of shopping for Christmas, but when I did venture into St Neots earlier this week I too heard some folk saying words to the effect

“ I’ll be glad when all this has finished – it gets me down “

Its true that there are a few things that get me grumpy  at this time of year – the question “ what are you doing for Christmas” is one of them and another is when people say “ Oh, it must be your busy time”  Busy time? Er, well yes, but I’m pretty busy most of the time actually” Its like when people say jokingly “ You only work on Sundays”

But how sad that anyone should ever feel that they wish Christmas was over – and how sad that we can ever think its “ over – done and dusted – as if its something we get out of a box  under sufferance, and then put back after 12 days of frenetic activity – and shut the lid tight.

Let me tell you if I may why I like Christmas so much and why rather than putting it away in boxes bound for the loft for the next 11 months I believe Christmas is to be celebrated every day of our lives

To do that, I will tell you about the play which the children of Little Paxton School Key Stage 1 performed this year in their school Hall. It started off with a glorious troupe of children filing onto the stage dressed variously as stars, clouds, kings, shepherds, lambs, angels  – the usual and expected characters in a school nativity play.

The troupe of white stars were very smart and self confident and took centre stage as it were looking very pleased with themselves.

But then a blue star appears. She looks very different from the white ones – infact she isn’t liked at all. The white stars make fun of her, scorn and wag their fingers at her in a rather too realistic way for my comfort. They sing a hostile song with a catchy tune which tells her to go away. She is being rejected for being different.

So, sadly, she sets off on a journey to find love and acceptance. Who wouldn’t? She meets a very big and bright star – you can imagine which star that is. The bright star befriends the Little Blue Star and together we realize they have an important mission – no prizes for guessing what this is, either!

Eventually, Jesus is born and side by side with that momentous event the Little white stars have a change of heart and  come to accept the Little Blue Star for what she is. I like to think their transformation isn’t just about realizing that she has been promoted to assistant to the Bethlehem Star.

At the end we hear it proclaimed that Jesus was born for all of us – who ever we are – not just for the regular  haps who look and live like we do. He was born for all of us – for all people of all time.

We know that right now across this tiny planet in a huge universe there are many people who are hungry, cold, thirsty, lonely, poorly or caught up in war. We know there are many for whom Christmas joy and good will is a joke, without any relevance in their lives. We know that the earth itself has been damaged by human greed and that weapons of destruction could at any moment cause untold damage. We know that even people of different faiths are fighting for their version of the truth. We know that each of us if the truth be told have our own fears and doubts and suffer from low self-esteem. We worry about the future for ourselves and our children or grandchildren.

Fear in its many varied forms is an only too real feature of too many peoples lives.

But just think for a moment. Those shepherds out in the fields minding their sheep – angels, Gods messengers come to them – the first words they hear ar Peace – do not be afraid.

It was the same with the young girl Mary – the first words the angel spoke to her were Peace – do not be afraid. If you have been watching the BBC drama of The Nativity – you will know how it brings home to us how frightened she must have been after hearing the news of the angel  – for at first those who loved her just didn’t believe her story and thought the worst of her.

Peace – do not be afraid!

I believe in Christmas because under all the seasonal wrapping and trappings of a commercialized Christmas there is an enduring message of great hope and peace and joy.

The message is simple: that God loved his world so much that he came into the world as a tiny infant to show each of us how much we are loved – whether a blue star or a white star so to speak – and how he desires each of us to love one another and the fragile earth we have been given to care for.

He came to show us that even if we make mistakes – and lets face it, humanity has and is making some pretty awful ones – we can be forgiven, we can start again and we cane be saved, made whole, rescued from our own mess.

The Eskimo has fifty-two names for snow because it is important to them;  there ought to be as many words for love.

The love that God has for us his beloved children is endless and beyond words. May each of us this night and in the coming days ask God to refresh us with that love, heal and calm us with his peace and warm us with a glowing sense of being accepted, forgiven and loved – just as we are.

What ever colour star we may be – we are all Gods children – and are called to shine as a light in a world that can feel at turns dark and lonely but also awesome and majestic.

May the light of the Christ  child  be with you all these Christmas days – and on into eternity. Amen


God of love, Father of all,
the darkness that covered the earth
has given way to the bright dawn of your Son Jesus,

The Light of the world.
Make us a people of this light, forgiven and made whole
That we may bring hope and peace into troubled hearts

And healing to a divided world
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

December 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Walk Softly…

‎”Walk softly as you go through Christmas: that each step you take may bring you nearer to the manger bed.

Talk quiety as you speak of Christmas: that you shall not drown out the song of the angels.

Knell reverently as you pause for Christmas: that you may feel again the spirit of the Nativity rekindled  in your soul.

Rise eagerly, after you have trod the Christmas path, that you may serve more fully the one whose birth we hail. Amen”

December 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In the bleak mid-winter?


They say that He was born

” In the bleak mid-winter”

We dont really know –

The bible didnt  give us

a weather forecast

as they set out for Bethlehem

and theres no mention of snow

in the holy gospels.

But the bleak mid winter

could just be an image;

He comes in the bleak mid winter of our lives

when all can feel cold and dark and fearsome

He comes when our hearts can feel hard as iron

shot through with sadness

and a fear of  terrors unknown.

He comes when people

(who ironically are all his children)

fight and squabble over words of faith

and plan to blow up the world

or each other

because they are different or glimpse another truth.

He comes

when all seems hopeless

and says

“Peace Be With You”

in the bleak mid winter

turning frozen hearts

into spings of running water

and spirits  leap for joy

for a child is born

this day

every day.


December 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Making merry with a fruit cake

My church warden Ken sent me this… it aint nothing to do wiv me…


* 2 cups flour
* 1 stick butter
* 1 cup of water
* 1 tsp baking  soda
* 1 cup of  sugar
* 1 tsp  salt
* 1 cup of  brown sugar
*  Lemon juice
* 4  large eggs
*  Nuts
* 2  bottles wine
* 2  cups of dried fruit

Sample the wine to  check quality.
Take a large bowl, check the wine again.
To be sure  it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.
Repeat.  Turn on the electric mixer.
Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point it’s best
to make sure the wine is still OK. Try another cup… Just in case.
Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl and  chuck in the
cup of dried fruit.

Pick the frigging  fruit up off floor. Mix on the turner.. If the fried
druit gets  stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample  the wine to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or
something. Check the wine. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your  nuts.
Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or some fink. Whatever  you can find.
Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try  not to fall over.
Don’t forget to beat off the turner.
Finally,  throw the bowl through the
window. Finish the wine and wipe counter  with the cat.
Go to Morrisons and buy a cake.

Bingle  Jells!

December 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Nativity – BBC’s new drama being broadcast this week

I am thoroughly enjoying the new dramatic version of ” The Nativity” being broadcast this week on BBC 1 at 7pm. Each half hour episode takes us along the journey of the Nativity story with equisite photography, realistic acting and a faithfulness to the original accounts.

How fascinating to read this article  in the Telegraph about the writer of the drama, Tony Jordan, who was, he admits, changed in the process of creating the script:


There have been countless retellings of the story of the nativity over the past 2,000 years and they divide roughly into two categories – those that stick faithfully to the traditional gospel account of a virgin birth, and those that reject it in favour of something more biological.

Given that this year’s big BBC One Christmas offering, The Nativity, comes from the pen of Tony Jordan, the award-winning scriptwriter best known for the gritty, down-to-earth world of EastEnders, it should, logically, fall into the second category. But think again, for the making of The Nativity has been something of a personal Road to Damascus for Jordan.

The 53-year-old former market trader, who only started writing professionally in his mid 30s when he sent a script in on spec to the BBC, has risen in recent years with Echo Beach, Hustle and Life on Mars to top the chart of British television screenwriting talent produced by Broadcast magazine.

To his list of credits must now be added The Nativity. “I don’t come from a religious background,” he explains, as we sit surrounded by panoramic views of open fields at his home in the Chilterns, “and I don’t think I’m anybody’s fool. I was expelled from school at 14. I’ve been in trouble. I know that people from my sort of background have always discounted the story of the nativity and I certainly didn’t believe it when I started on it three years ago. But now I do.” So what changed? It all began when Jordan, whose runs his own production company, Red Planet Pictures, was in Cardiff discussing new projects with BBC Wales.

His meeting overran and got mixed up with another where they were looking to follow up The Passion, broadcast at Easter 2008, with a new version of the nativity. “I’d probably had a couple too many rums, but they asked me what I would do,” recalls Jordan, “and I pitched the ridiculous notion of doing the inn in Bethlehem as a single play, a bit like ‘Allo ‘Allo. So you’d have the landlord and the Roman soldiers with silly accents, and about 50 minutes into a 60-minute play there would be a knock at the door, and our version of Rene would open it on a man saying, ‘My wife’s pregnant, can you help me?’ Rene sends him to the stable, and right at the end goes to check up on them and walks in on the nativity. A week later, I had I forgotten all about the conversation when I got a telephone call from someone at the BBC saying, ‘We love it, can you write the script?’ It was a bit of a shock.”

But why say yes? Religion is hardly at the cutting edge of television output. Jordan laughs. There’s something endearingly honest and direct about him. “It was hardly religious at that point, and I only said, ‘yeeees’, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought my idea would be a travesty – to take the most beautiful story in the history of the world and turn it into a cheap gag.”

So he began researching. The gospels weren’t, he reports, much use. Two of the four don’t mention the nativity at all, and the other two “very helpfully contain about 400 words on the whole subject”, which wasn’t going to make much of a dent on four peak-time half-hour slots on BBC One in the immediate run-up to Christmas Day. Past attempts – reverent and controversial – to bring the story to life didn’t impress him either. “I knew I wanted to put heart in it. I’ve never seen that done before. Even the iconic imagery is cold. With Mary, all you ever see is a one-dimensional image with a halo and a Ready brek glow.”

Jordan read history books and consulted theologians – as well as Nasa in an effort to understand the star over Bethlehem. “I began to realise how little I knew about Mary or Joseph. Some of the research suggested Mary could have been as young as 12. What fascinated me was that she then became something different in my eyes – a child. I had never seen Mary as a child before. And with Joseph, I tried to imagine what I would have said if Tracy [his wife] had come home and said, ‘OK look, I am pregnant but don’t worry, its God’s’. I don’t think I would have slept on it, had a dream, and been OK about it [like Joseph in the gospels].” Jordan tells the tale of Mary and Joseph’s betrothal as a simple boy-meets-girl romance and it is Joseph, an earnest but lovable innocent who emerges from the shadows as the pivotal character of this drama. “It is about Joseph finding faith,” he explains simply. “I had to ask the questions the audience would ask. You cannot have Mary going away to see her cousin and coming back pregnant without Joseph asking if she’d had too much to drink one night and ended up in bed with a soldier, or if she was raped, because that’s what the audience would ask, what he would have asked.”

And it is by posing those questions that Jordan, along with a young and largely unstarry cast, and his award-winning director, Coky Giedroyc (sister of comedian, Mel), manage the seemingly impossible task of giving a new feel to a familiar narrative.

Once he makes the Mary-Joseph relationship as normal and credible as anything in Albert Square, he allows the supernatural elements of the story to sit less uneasily because they have a context.

Was he ever tempted, writing the script in the wooden shed at the end of his garden, to dispense with the virgin birth?

“If you accept that Jesus is Son of God, why would you not believe that Mary was a virgin, and that God must have had some hand in the impregnation.

”Quite how – whether it was a whiff of steam that came through the nostrils and into the semen, or whatever – is beyond my comprehension, but to me, as a sequence of events, it makes perfect sense.” That’s a big “if” he’s starting with. I thought he wasn’t religious. “I have a distaste for organised religions,” he corrects me, “because they tamper with stories, add a bit here, take a bit off there, and then start killing each other because the other one doesn’t agree. The only thing I know for sure is that the words I read as coming from Jesus Christ are the most truthful thing I have ever heard. As a blueprint for mankind, it is so smart that it couldn’t even have come from a clever philosopher. Who would have been smart enough to say ‘He who is without sin cast the first stone’? Wow! That’s pretty cool.”

Writing The Nativity may have converted him to the virgin birth, even to Jesus’s blueprint, but it won’t inspire Jordan to take his seat in the ancient church a few doors down from his house on Dec 25.

“I have a distaste for people who say to me if you come through these doors, walk down this aisle, sit on that wooden bench, and sing these hymns in this order, I have got God in a little bottle under my pulpit and I’ll let you have a look,” he says. “I don’t think was God’s intention.”

I put the last bit in blue italics – as here is the challenge for all of us with responsibility for tryring to  link up peoples interest and even faith in the Jesus story- with actual church going. Sometimes to me the chasm seems rather wide to bridge. If we cant do it at Christmas, when can we do it?

The Nativity: Tatiana Maslany and Andrew Buchan as Mary and Joseph in the BBC drama of Christ’s birth. Photo: BBC

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments