Category Archives: No Book

The Gift of Silence

From UCC (United Church in Christ)

Quinn G. Caldwell

“[Zechariah] asked for a writing tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God.” – Luke 1:57-66

So God tells Zechariah, who’s really old, that he’s about to have a son, and that he should name that son John. Zechariah doubts that he and his equally old wife are going to manage such a feat. God tells him he will be struck silent until the promise is fulfilled. When Elizabeth gives birth and people ask them what the name will be, John writes, “His name is John” on a tablet. Suddenly, his voice is freed. And his first words? One of the most beautiful songs of the Bible. The Benedictus, named for the Latin translation of its first word, later came to be recited at morning prayer by Christians the world round in the hopes that, by saying what Zechariah had said, their tongues too would be freed for praise each day.

Have you ever been silenced by what you didn’t dare say aloud? And did you one day find enough strength or faith or dire need to say it? And when you said it, did you find yourself unlocked, your voice freed for prayer and praise, your life freed like a stone rolled away from a tomb?

What was it you said?

Was it, “I’m gay”?
“My husband hits me”?
“I love you”?
“I’m an alcoholic”?
“Will you marry me”?
“I’m not going to take it any more”?
“I believe in God”?
“Please forgive me”?

For Zechariah, it was, “His name is John.” For Mary, it was, “I’m pregnant.”

If you’re haven’t said yours yet, what are you waiting for?


Blessed be you, O God. Give me words like keys, and free my life for faith and praise. Amen.

Reimagining Christmas

So a whole bunch of things that reimagine the story, and do their best to get me away from the question – “how can I fit this in?”

This one recasts the story as handheld horror; the darkest places lit up.


Then there is a terrific offering here in the same vein from Nativity Factor, this one called Donkey:


And then our own Paul McKeown with an homage to Dylan:

I like the playing piano from Chicago station, the music which comes in beside us, which plays the music we need to hear:

Then the West Jet Christmas give away:

And the Sainsbury’s advert – the best thing is the unexpected arrival:

The bear and the hair – companionship, and the anxiety of not knowing how the gift will be received, making sure that the forgotten ones don’t miss out.

Or the Boots advert from a few years back, the one who has the courage to give themselves:

And finally, becoming a classic – the Bethlehemian Rhapsody

23rd Psalm In Border Scots

Twentie-Thurd Saum
A Scots owresettin o Dauvid’s Saum
John Moir

Wha is my shepherd weel I ken,
The Lord Himsel’ is he;
He leeds me whaur the girse is green
An’ burnies quaet that be.
Aft times I fain astray wad gang
An’ wann’r far awa’;
He fin’s me oot, He pits me richt,
An brings me hame an’ a’.
Tho’ I pass through the gruesome cleugh,
Fin’ I ken He is near;
His muckle crook will me defen’,
Sae I ha’e nocht to fear.