nora the noisy angel

In the interests of recycling I am reposting something I wrote 3 years ago. It’s the text for a story that you might like:

Nora the noisy angel*

nora-the-noisy-angelHeaven was normally a calm, quiet place. It was peaceful, gentle and lovely. The angels would talk to each other in gentle whispers because it was so quiet.

Except for Nora. She could not speak quietly. If one of the other angels whispered, “Good morning Nora,” she would respond in a loud voice, “GOOD MORNING!”

If one of the angels whispered, “How are you?” Nora would bellow, “I’M WONDERFUL THANK YOU, HOW ARE YOU?”

And when the angels suggested that Nora should speak more softly she would shout, “I’M SPEAKING AS SOFTLY AS I CAN!”

The other angels called her Noisy Nora and that made her a bit sad. She wanted to be quiet but didn’t know how.

One day Nora heard that they were holding auditions for a very special choir of angels. She was very excited and went along. Thousands of angels were singing in sweet harmony: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to everyone!” It was a lovely, inspiring, melodic sound.

When it was Nora’s turn she tried her hardest. But instead of a gentle harmony she sang at the top of her voice, “GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST AND PEACE ON EARTH TO EVERYONE!”

“I’m very sorry Nora” say the angel choirmaster, “You’re too noisy. We can’t hear anyone else.”

Nora was really sad. She knew that the choir were practising for the most exciting moment since God had said, “Let there be light!” and she couldn’t be a part of it.

She went and sat down on a small cloud and cried.

She was still crying when she noticed that it had got brighter around her. She looked up and saw the Kindest Face.

“Hello Nora,” said the Kindest Voice.

“HELLO!” she said loudly, instantly feeling guilty about speaking so loudly to Him.

“I’ve got an important job for you,” said the Kindest Voice. And He whispered in her ear to tell her what He wanted her to do.

The next day the massive choir was ready, lined up in the darkness, waiting to sing their special song in honour of the special baby. They all waited for their cue. Then they noticed Nora walk out in front of them and step out from behind the night curtain in front of a group of startled shepherds.

“DON’T BE AFRAID!” shouted Nora in her loud voice, so everyone could hear, “I’VE GOT GOOD NEWS FOR YOU. IT’S NEWS THAT WILL CHANGE THE WORLD FOREVER! A SPECIAL BABY HAS JUST BEEN BORN IN BETHLEHEM. GOD’S COME INTO THE WORLD AND YOU CAN FIND HIM WRAPPED UP WARM AND LYING IN A MANGER!”

That was the cue for the rest of the angels. The night curtain was raised and the massed choir sang their special song: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to everyone.”

The night curtain came back down and the angel choir went back to heaven. Nora peeped through and watched as the shepherds faces shone and they hurried off down the hill into the village to find the baby.

When Nora got back to heaven the rest of the angels cheered and shouted and made such a fuss of her because she had done such an amazing job with her loud voice. And Nora could see the Kindest Face beaming at her.

She was so pleased that for the first time in her life she whispered, “Thank you.”

I have worked out some lyrics for a song that can be sung to the tune of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer after the story has been told:

Nora the noisy angel
Didn't have a quiet voice
And if you ever heard her
You'd be deafened by the noise
Nora just couldn't whisper
Her voice was always far too loud
She only had one volume
That echoed loud around the clouds

'Glory to God on hi-gh'
Went the special angel song:
'Peace on the earth as well'
And Nora went along
She sounded like a foghorn
Drowning all the harmonies
She couldn't join the choir
And sing the baby-melody

As she cried upon her cloud
She heard the Kindest Voice
"I have got a job for you -
I need to use your mega-voice"

Nora spoke to the shepherds,
She didn't need a microphone.
She told them about the baby
Born to bring us all back home.
When she went back to heaven
How the other angels cheered.
And Nora's First Christmas message
Echoes down across the years.

Be blessed, be a blessing

*If you like the story and want to use it, feel free. If you fancy giving me a credit that would be nice.

the guardian angel of credit cards

little angelAfter some unexpected (and probably computer-error-generated) activity on my credit card I decided that it was safest to have the old card replaced. That all happened smoothly, but it also included getting a new PIN. Now I don’t know about you but I have so many 4 digit numbers bouncing around in my head that I didn’t want another one, but it was a necessary part of making sure that my account was secure.

The problem is that I can’t remember the new PIN. To misquote Eric Morecambe, I can remember all the right numbers, but not necessarily in the right order. I can check this, and I have done, but somehow the order remains elusive.

I wanted to use my credit card today and confidently put it into the machine at the till, and hesitantly put in the PIN I remembered. It was wrong. I decided that, rather than risk having the card disabled and having to get a new one again, I would use a debit card that I was confident about. All was well.

Then, as I was driving home, I had a call from an unknown number on my hands free phone. It was a very nice lady from my credit card company checking to see whether I had been trying (unsuccessfully) to use my card. I found it very reassuring that their system was monitoring me and my activity and had decided that the unusual activity was worth checking out in person. It’s nice to know that my credit card has a guardian angel.

I think lots of people like the idea of having a guardian angel – some holy being that is watching out for us: making sure we don’t trip up and fall flat on our face (literally or metaphorically). I have heard people talk about how their guardian angel must have been with them when they had a narrow escape from a dangerous situation.

Now I am not really convinced about guardian angels. This is why: if I have a guardian angel, then he/she/it is not doing a very good job. I do trip up and fall flat on my face (literally and metaphorically). I do get ill. Things do go wrong. Sometimes I don’t escape from a dangerous situation (narrowly or otherwise).

And I struggle to find evidence for one in the Bible. Indeed Jesus insisted on several occasions that if we follow him we can expect all sorts of hardship, which suggests that if they exist guardian angels become redundant when you become a Christian.

We all know that life can be tough. We all know that relationships can be difficult. We all know that sometimes we get ill. Life is not a continuous procession of joy, happiness and victory. (Before you get too depressed let me say that it’s not all misery and doom too!) Jesus never promised that it would be different. When he spoke about bringing people ‘life in all its fullness’ I don’t think he was saying that it would be a life of fluffy bunnies and cushions wherever we land. I think he was saying that it will be a life like everyone else’s with a balance of joys and sorrows (for better and for worse) but with the added dimension of experiencing God’s presence and perspective on things.

There’s a slightly fatalistic Hebrew proverb (not in the Bible) – “This too shall pass.” ‘Life in all its fullness’ has an element of ‘there’s a better future’ but it has much more to do with experiencing and living life as God intended it to be lived – with him, in him, through him. That’s what the Holy Spirit does for us and in us and with us and through us.

I suspect that instead of a guardian angel around us, what people are experiencing is a touch, a free sample, an inkling, an awareness that God is for us and that his Spirit is at work in us even before we are aware of him.

Be blessed, be a blessing

Yay for Christmas!

Let me start by saying that I love Christmas, and I love Colchester Baptist Church – they are wonderful. This is NOT a complaint it’s an observation and a reflection. If you sense any complaining or self-pity in this bloggage it has sneaked in without permission. ‘Bah, humbug’ is banned!

People sometimes say to me that Christmas must be the busiest time of the year for a Minister. Yes it is busy and yes there are extra things to do, but part of me wants to say ‘no’ because it’s not as if I am sitting around twiddling my thumbs for the rest of the year (cue jokes about only working on Sundays…). I also want to say that if there is any extra busyness it’s no more than lots of other people experience at this time of year. And lots of other people in the church are also working their socks off in a voluntary capacity (which is why they need new ones for Christmas). And I want to say that I love it.

The Christmas-related work may mean that some of the ‘normal’ (if anything I do is normal) has to be postponed until January. It may mean that I have to prepare a few more ‘thoughts’. It may mean that I eat a few more Christmas Lunches than is usual (4 this year). It may mean that I have to try to be more organised than usual in order to do everything. It may mean that there are fewer gaps between activities. If I had time I could re-write the twelve days of Christmas for Ministers. (Perhaps one day!) But I love it.

Before I was called to this church I worked at our Baptist Union’s office in Didcot. I loved what I did there, but at Christmas I missed being a Minister in a local church. It was not always specific things I missed (like all the lunches) – it was simply being among people as their Minister at this incredibly special time. I love it.

And each year there are new insights from the age-old story. Each year I am captivated by the realisation that the baby in the manger was God with us. This morning I was blessed by watching this wonderful video on YouTube, especially the ‘twist’.

This year some of my pondering has generated the following story, which I shared with one of our parent and toddler groups…

little angelNora the noisy angel*

Heaven was normally a calm, quiet place. It was peaceful, gentle and lovely. The angels would talk to each other in gentle whispers because it was so quiet.

Except for Nora. She could not speak quietly. If one of the other angels whispered, “Good morning Nora,” she would respond in a loud voice, “GOOD MORNING!”

If one of the angels whispered, “How are you?” Nora would bellow, “I’M WONDERFUL THANK YOU, HOW ARE YOU?”

And when the angels suggested that Nora should speak more softly she would shout, “I’M SPEAKING AS SOFTLY AS I CAN!”

The other angels called her Noisy Nora and that made her a bit sad. She wanted to be quiet but didn’t know how.

One day Nora heard that they were holding auditions for a very special choir of angels. She was very excited and went along. Thousands of angels were singing in sweet harmony: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to everyone!” It was a lovely, inspiring, melodic sound.

When it was Nora’s turn she tried her hardest. But instead of a gentle harmony she sang at the top of her voice, “GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST AND PEACE ON EARTH TO EVERYONE!”

“I’m very sorry Nora” say the angel choirmaster, “You’re too noisy. We can’t hear anyone else.”

Nora was really sad. She knew that the choir were practising for the most exciting moment since God had said, “Let there be light!” and she couldn’t be a part of it.

She went and sat down on a small cloud and cried.

She was still crying when she noticed that it had got brighter around her. She looked up and saw the Kindest Face.

“Hello Nora,” said the Kindest Voice.

“HELLO!” she said loudly, instantly feeling guilty about speaking so loudly to Him.

“I’ve got an important job for you,” said the Kindest Voice. And He whispered in her ear to tell her what He wanted her to do.

The next day the massive choir was ready, lined up in the darkness, waiting to sing their special song in honour of the special baby. They all waited for their cue. Then they noticed Nora walk out in front of them and step out from behind the night curtain in front of a group of startled shepherds.

“DON’T BE AFRAID!” shouted Nora in her loud voice, so everyone could hear, “I’VE GOT GOOD NEWS FOR YOU. IT’S NEWS THAT WILL CHANGE THE WORLD FOREVER! A SPECIAL BABY HAS JUST BEEN BORN IN BETHLEHEM. GOD’S COME INTO THE WORLD AND YOU CAN FIND HIM WRAPPED UP WARM AND LYING IN A MANGER!”

That was the cue for the rest of the angels. The night curtain was raised and the massed choir sang their special song: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to everyone.”

The night curtain came back down and the angel choir went back to heaven. Nora peeped through and watched as the shepherds faces shone and they hurried off down the hill into the village to find the baby.

When Nora got back to heaven the rest of the angels cheered and shouted and made such a fuss of her because she had done such an amazing job with her loud voice. And Nora could see the Kindest Face beaming at her.

She was so pleased that for the first time in her life she whispered, “Thank you.”

Be blessed, be a blessing

*If you like the story and want to use it, feel free. If you fancy giving me a credit that would be nice.