Monthly Archives: December 2013


December 15, 2013 – Transcript is here

On the story of Zechariah – who must have been both mute and deaf.

Much on the need to rid ourselves of clutter- that if Jesus lived in a quieter world than us, and he needed times of silence, the perhaps we do too.

Also a meditation on the silences of Jesus in the stories of the passion.

My favourite bit is on the things that Zechariah cannot do to manage image, create false perceptions, talk about himself, that he was able to do when he was a talking priest.

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.

Return to Sender

Our tendency is to pick and choose – to reject the parts of life we do not like and keep shopping for some we do. When God’s gifts come wrapped in shiny paper and curled ribbons, we say “Thank you very much,” but when they arrive on our doorsteps held together with newspaper and barbed wire, most of us take out our magic markers and write “Return to Sender” on the box.

But there is another way open to us.  We can accept what we have been assigned and work with it – taking it apart piece by piece, if necessary, in order to discover the God inside.

(Page 106-107)

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.


Ortberg, September 22nd 2013

Fabulous on Abraham being sent out and the great risk that God takes.

The best bit is the bus driver Linda Allen talking about how her bus is the kingdom.  Fabulously introduced.  Also a fantastic culture clash between what she wants to talk about and the more respectable confines of a middle class Church.

Video and transcript can all be found here.