woofers and tweeters*

This is a follow-on from yesterday’s post about the busy-ness of Christmas. One of the impacts on Ministers of the many different events is that we have to come up with something to say at them all, and I feel compelled to prepare something different for each one. This is not just because there is the possibility of someone turning up to more than one event and hearing the same talk. It is principally because I believe that there are different things to be said on these different occasions and trust that God will point me in the right direction to say the things that those listening need to hear.

But there is such a variety! A ladies’ meeting this afternoon (who presumably do ladies’ things). An all age nativity service on Sunday morning. A Christingle Service the following week. Our Carols by Candlelight Service on 19th in the evening (6.30 if you are interested in coming). A Christmas Vigil. Christmas Day Celebration. Boxing Day service. And the one I am most nervous about… Thought for the Day on Radio Essex on Sunday 12th.

CommunicationThe reason I am nervous is not because it is live radio. That does not phase me. It is because in all of the other events I have some idea about who may be there and it is a bit easier to discern what God may want to say to them through me. I have no idea at all who may be listening to BBC Radio Essex at 8 am on Sunday morning. Some may be members of my church (so I can’t reheat something old). Some may be churchgoers getting ready for the day. Some may not be interested in church at all but have the radio on in the background. It is such a diverse group of people.

The thought that is keeping me sane about this is that I do not have to worry about saying something that is relevant to everyone. That is God’s job, and what he does through his Spirit in the lives of each of the listeners. So long as I have heard him and prepared properly he will do the rest.

I asked a few people to pray about the preparation for this and one of them suggested that this may be the start of a national media career. NO WAY!! I have seen the Vicar of Dibley episode where the Vicar gets so focused on her media career that she neglects her people. Please God let me never be distracted by anything to the detriment of those whom you have called me to serve.

This is a good use of radio! (follow the link to youtube)

*woofers and tweeters are different sorts of speaker. Geddit?

Dear Father Christmas…

It’s only 29 days to Christmas. Somehow the countdown seems less important to me than when I was a child. I’m not sure how far back the countdown would be (I don’t think it ever reached 3 figures) but with a birthday in February it always seemed a long time until presents.

On Sunday morning we had a guest preacher for our church anniversary, Rev Chris Andre-Watson. Chris is a buddy of mine from my days at the minister factory and it was a joy to have him with us. One thing he said resonated with me when he was speaking about our consumerist society. He said that they were thinking of renaming their daughter ‘Argos’ because that is her favourite book. She goes through the new catalogues ringing the items she wants. That is also our experience with one of our offspring, especially the autumn/winter catalogue because that is the one that would have potential Christmas presents in.

Is it just my imagination or have Christmas lists become more demanding? I think it used to be that you would ask someone for some ideas of what they would like as a gift. Now we give people exact details of the items we want (including colour) and expect that this will be bought. I don’t want to discount myself from this process as I know I do it too, but there is something brilliant in my experience about the unrequested and unexpected present. The item that you have no idea what it is until you open it.

Christmas presentsThis shopping list approach can become the paradigm for my praying if I am not careful. I have been looking again at my prayer life and whether the balance is good. I realise that a lot of the time I have a Christmas present list rather than some ideas. I know what I want Jesus to do for me rather than ‘this would be nice but your will be done’. But God is gracious and patient with me. He gently corrects and encourages me to keep at it. And on a regular basis he blesses me in an unrequested and unexpected way. Like the encouraging letter, email or phone call. Like the ‘thank you’ for something you had not realised anyone had noticed. Like the joy of seeing people grow into and in their faith.

I’m going bald (in case you had not noticed). I asked Father Christmas for something to keep the rest of my hair in. He gave me a paper bag.

Buddum tish