“Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, and since we’ve no place to go, let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! ” It’s all very well if you’re warm and snug, but a different story out in the cold trying to get somewhere, or coming to terms with the loss of a loved one or threat of job loss. Many traverse this season with heavy hearts and shadowed souls.
Our annual ‘Quiet Carols’ this Sunday (3pm, all welcome!) gathers fellow travelers, for whom the season is difficult. We invite friends who’ve lost loved ones through the year. Some come each year for the comfort experienced sitting with others in a similar boat, placing a red carnation in a vase, writing a message in the book of remembrance and enjoying a cuppa in the café.
Next Monday is our Homeless Hostel Christmas Party, with a meal and party for the residents of Victoria House. It always brings me closer to the heart of Christmas, ‘Jesus leaving the warmth of heaven, born into a cold world of need and greed, come to return us into the heart of God’s Home forever’. We also continue to pray for residents in the Fullarton Street high flats, still to be rehoused, due to these blocks being raised to the ground next year. (Saturday’s Pensioners’ Dinner)
The musical Nativity Plays in Loudoun Montgomery Primary School and Fullarton ConneXions will be creative celebrations of Christ’s coming to light up our lives and world with his Love and Hope. Our Youth & Community team are also in Irvine’s academies, creatively engaging pupils & teachers with an Eco-warrior take on Christmas #cometosaveourplanet. The normal Christmas Eve Candlelit (6.30 & 11.30pm) and Christmas Day (10.30am) celebrations, will be followed by a slap-up Christmas Dinner for anybody & everybody (bring neighbours, friends, family and look out for people on their own to bring!). (Sat’s Light Factory Party)
Might you join me in regularly praying this prayer in Advent, “God of Surprise, open my Eyes”. Collette’s story might inspire you:
“OK, there I was sitting in the car at traffics lights waiting…………. It had been a long day, it was dark and cold outside and I was keen to get home for dinner.
‘God of surprise, open my eyes!’ I said quietly, while peering out the car windows. The scene was dismal. Even some small trees nearby had a cruel Halloween look to them. I looked a bit harder……….it wasn’t working! Every time I say ‘God of surprise, open my eyes.’ I always see something of beauty that God wants to share with me.
I burst out laughing and said, “There’s nothing there God!” Just at that moment a light caught my eye. Standing on the pavement a woman was drawing on a cigarette. It briefly lit up with an orange glow and I noticed her standing there for the first time. As she walked across the road and passed in front of my car, I started praying for her. Praying that God would bless her in all her happiness and help her in all her difficulties. It made me feel so good inside. This is what God had wanted me to see.
The lady walked on into the pub. The traffic lights turned to green and I went on my way.
So there is my wee story Neil. Just as you said in church today, “God of surprise, open my eyes. And let our eyes be open to others.”