Archive for December, 2010

When I was a kid Christmas was nothing more than a festival of overindulgence.  I think my parents were feeling a bit guilty about having a business that was open 363 days a year; Christmas and New Year being to odd ones out.   There was no reference whatsoever in my family of anything religious or sacred being attached to Christmas.

So, I found it just a little odd that in the front room (we had a front room in our house where there was a bunch of wooden crates filled with all sorts of interesting stuff from books to tools to autograph books, to silver tea pots; the list goes on.  The front room was always dark and no one ever went in there, except when I snuck in during some of those 363 busy days on my family’s life) I found a nativity scene, a  little wooden stable with carved wooden figures of Mary and Joseph with Jesus and  a few farm animals.  It was about 100mm wide (although it those days I would have said 4 inches) and almost as high.  It smelt of camphor and dust.  It never came out in polite company, but at Christmas time, once I had found it, I would sneak in and hold it gently and look at it curiously.  Then we moved.  The boxes were lost or broken, their contents scattered across a number of houses and sheds over the next 6 or 7 years of my life.

Somehow this nativity scene remained in my possession.  I am not really sure how that happened.  Years passed on now with a wife and kids of our own we carried on in the traditional overindulgent spirit of Christmas.

It was when we moved into what we thought were fairly temporary digs, our kids were maybe 4 and 5 at the time that the little camphor-wood nativity scene made its first real and memorable appearance in our family.  The tree was up and the decorations were hung and the little stable was on the floor beneath the tree, almost as obscure as another scene on the first Christmas.  It was Jake who spotted it. “Look, a Christmas House!” he cried.

I thought to myself that I could never have felt comfortable even mentioning that I knew of its existence to my parents, not a 5 and not at 35.  I was glad that my kids had been brought up with far more freedom that I could have ever imagined.

Call me sentimental old coot, but we still have that Christmas House and it still means a  lot to me; a thing of curiosity, a smell that is embedded in my entire central nervous system, a hint of something that could not be spoken about but that also could not be forgotten, a symbol of spiritual and relational freedom.

This year we will be away from hoe over Christmas.  While I won’t be getting the decorations out that one small Christmas House will travel with me in thought.  No one else will know.  No one else would probably care.  But it will travel in my heart and mind.  I am sure I will even be able to smell it.


The Christmas House 2

Posted: 9 December, 2010 in My stuff
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Apart from a great sentimental attachment, I have never really been a  fan of the nativity scene; those often kitch and historically inaccurate representations in wood or plastic of the circumstances  and company at the first Christmas.  Come to think of it, I have never really been  fan of Christmas.

Anyway, I was reading a mates blog and he had post form another bloke who had  put together a bunch of photos of what he though were the twenty worst nativity scenes.  Best and worst are usually completely subjective when it  comes to  this sort of thing  but I had to agree with him that some of them were severely cringeworthy, others were just off.

I have always though it easy to take a  cheep shot and point out the flaws, especially the obvious ones, in whatever is up for scrutiny.  I have always thought it a  far more difficult thing to recognise the good and then equally difficult to honour  it in front of a  critical audience.  Anyway, in response I though I would post up a  bunch of photos of what I though were, lets say, interesting nativity scenes.  Again this is entirely subjective and is my own personal opinion.  You are entitled to your own opinion even if it is wrong. (more…)

The 'real' meaning of ChristmasMadison, a  designer clothing and accessory empire, ‘renowned for its extensive collection of clothing, shoes and accessories’, has made its mark in Los Angeles by offering something for everyone.  It has also made its mark in shop window advertising this Christmas with a  designer nativity scene.

Madison ‘known for its “tasteful” edits of a designer’s collection and choosing only the best to bring to its shoppers’, has enraged some and surprised others by displaying a  faceless mannequin Mary, mother of Jesus, sitting in what has been described by some as a ‘provocative pose’ with an infant Jesus in her lap.  The fact that Jesus is gold left me wondering if he was an ‘accessory’.  Attending to her are three presumable wise women, snappily dressed and baring gifts in Madison bags. (more…)

The Christmas House

Posted: 7 December, 2010 in My stuff

I was inspired to write a  couple of things about nativity scenes.  The upshot is a set of three blogs, a triptych if you will, looking at three different aspects of this Christmas tradition.

Naturally I will be posting the third one first.  The second will go up on Thursday and the first will be over the weekend sometime.

These will probably be my last posts until the New Year.  I am taking a  bit of long service leave and Karen and I will be getting away from mobile phones, knocks on the door and work responsibilities for a  few weeks.  We will be travelling a  bit in Europe with a couple of days in China on the way over.  To my regular readers, if either of you would like to share somewhat vicariously in our trip we have a travel blog.  It is by invite only, so if you want to come along you will need to send us your email address.  You can leave it as a note at the bottom of this post, or for reasons of security, sent it to me via Facebook.

Have  a peaceful, meaningful and reflective Christmas.  Remember the kid whose birthday we are celebrating and keep in mind that he grew up and asks nothing less from you than your very life.  So, if you want to give a  gift, give yourself to the one who knows what to do with you and who will, in turn, give you back more than you could ever ask or imagine.


This is the notes from last week’s message at our gathering.  Due to time constraints (the other job!) I have not been able to write it out in full as I would normally do.   Not that what I write on paper bears a great deal of resemblance to what I say on a  Sunday anyway.

None the less, here are the notes.  Glean from them what you can, fill in the gaps, and, above all,  take some time to ponder where abouts you stand with this Jesus character…

This was the only 'crowd shot' I came across in either stained glass or iconography

We have been looking at the followers of Jesus; primarily his disciples – the twelve men that he chose to travel with him, learn from him and join him in his mission to announce the Kingdom of God.  There were others too.  We have been introduced to the women.  Next week we will be introduced to an enemy who becomes a friend.  Today I want to look at the group who are recorded most often as following Jesus; mentioned in all the Gospels.  They were taught by parable and direct teaching; they saw and experienced miracles and healings.  They even heard the voice of God on at least one occasion.

They are the crowd, or more precisely the crowds. (more…)