Writing for Christmas in August – See, Amid the Winter’s Snow……

 

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Walter Launt Palmer

 

One of the strange and rather wonderful things about writing for a devotional publication like Quiet Spaces  is that you sometimes find yourself doing things at times that feel out of step with the world outside your window.  So, now, in August, I am thinking of the cold and dark of midwinter.  Today, it is very rainy indeed here in Suffolk, and not at all summery, which nearly fits…

I decided to base my meditations on the simple and profound carol, “See, Amid the Winter’s Snow”, by Edward Caswall.  I am finding it a very moving  process, and am looking forward to whatever will emerge from it.
If you feel like some unseasonal listening, you could try the following, which are currently playing on repeat in my house.

 

Sunday Retold – Transfiguration

Andrea Skevington

Part of the Sunday Retold series, following the readings may churches around the word use.  This week it’s
Luke 9:28-36

The Transfiguration

With relevant extracts from my Books.  I hope you enjoy.  Please feel free to use any of my material you find helpful, saying where it’s from.

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CHANGED BEFORE THEIR EYES (Mark 9:1-30)

Jesus led his disciples on from Caesarea Philippi towards higher ground. Jesus took Peter, James and John, and began to climb the steep slopes of a mountain that rose above the landscape.  Rocks slid under their feet as they walked under the bright, burning sun. At last they reached the top, and looked down on the outstretched wings of eagles riding the rising thermal currents.

And there, under the wide, open sky, Jesus was transformed before their eyes. He was shining, changed, his clothes dazzling white – brighter than pure untrodden…

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Bees

Rain and thunder are themes of the week!

Andrea Skevington

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Hot and thundery, the English summer arrives – it’s too much all at once, at least for me.
Here is a small poem written watching the bees through my window, on the powerful, vivid, lavender.
It is also a poem touching on transformation, something that is beginning to emerge as a theme, although I am not quite sure where it is taking me……. which is perhaps, the point.

Bees

I watch them on the lavender,
each purple flowerstem a pendulum of bees,
keeping time with its humming weight,
White and red tailed, bumble and carder.

A few honeybees come, too,
so few, and already yellow
with sweetness.
And butterflies – cabbage whites,
bright as paper – unfolding
in the scent of flowers.

When the summer storms come,
when storm-rain falls in drops
as big as bumblebees, and
hail clatters against the glass,
they rise, as one, and fly
between the…

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Rain

For those of us currently enjoying a beautiful, intense storm…..

Andrea Skevington

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So, today, it rains.  I am loving listening to the sound of it fall o the dry ground, the coolness, freshness, even the greyness of the sky and the newly soft light.

While waiting for the rain, my mind turned back to this poem.  I wrote it a couple of years ago, and so the raspberries in the pictures, this year’s crop, are healthier than the ones described below.  Water has been on my mind as I’ve been working on my  new book   on John’s gospel – water poured out as an offering, water to wash the eyes of the one born blind, water the bubbles up within you, so you are never thirsty again.  That gets closer to the other kinds of thirst here, in this poem.  There are many things we can be thirsty for.

Rain

The breeze stirs the raspberry patch,
the leaves with crisp yellow edges

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Good Friday; the Stations of the Cross

These remarkable sonnets lead us along the road of tears this Good Friday.

Malcolm Guite

Good Friday by Linda Richardson

Here, once more, is the complete sequence of sonnets for the Stations of the Cross, which form the core of my book Sounding the Seasons and are intended to be read on Good Friday.

I am grateful to Linda Richardson who has given me permission to share with you her series of remarkable paintings, ‘The Faces of Holy Week’. These will be on display, together with my poems, in the resurrection chapel in St. Mary’s Linton throughout Holy Week, do look in and see them if you are in the area. You can also look at these paintings and others on Linda’s Webpage

Linda writes about the pictureI have given above:

For many of us, Good Friday is so laden with imagery and commentary it is overwhelming and instead of entering the story we can often feel numb.

Jesus friends and family would have watched…

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Maundy Thursday Retold

Andrea Skevington

As we approach Easter, I’ll share with you retellings and prayers that might help you in your preparation, and might be useful for faith communities to share.  Today, we’ll look at the time when Jesus knelt before his followers to wash their feet, and gave them a new commandment – to love each other.
The word Maundy derives from the word commandment.

Love and serve one another

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THE SERVANT KING (John 13: 1- 17)

Evening came, and Jesus and his disciples were together in the upper room they had been given.  Jesus knew the time had come to leave the world – and those he loved, and would love to the end.  Jesus knew that God had given him power over all things, and so he took a towel, and tied it around his waist. He knelt down before his followers, and began washing their feet.
“No, Lord!” burst out…

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Easter Retold – Palm Sunday

Andrea Skevington

Over the next week, I shall post extracts from The Bible Retold and Prayers and Verses which I hope will be useful to you in your preparation for Easter.

Please feel free to use my material if it helps you, saying where it is from.  I love to hear that groups, churches and schools have enjoyed these retellings and prayers.

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INTO JERUSALEM  (John 12:12-36)

The next day, word spread that Jesus was going to enter Jerusalem.   People poured out of the gates, and those who were with him gathered, waiting to see what would happen.  Jesus sat on a young donkey, and began the ride towards the city as people cut palm branches from the trees and went out to meet him on the road. The crowds were bursting with joy – shouting and cheering to see Jesus, at last, coming into Jerusalem.  They remembered God’s promises from long ago…

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Christmas Retold – Joy to the World

Now, as night falls on Christmas Eve, and the season of Christmas begins, we know that Light shines in the darkness.
Merry Christmas to all!

Andrea Skevington

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Welcome to a Christmas Special from Sunday Retold

In these last few days of preparation, I thought I would share with you a Christmas retelling, and some prayers.  For several years, the “Shepherds and Angels” part of the extract below was read out at All-Age Christmas worship in my church.

If you would like to use any of the material below, please do feel free to do so, saying where it is from.

From The Bible Retold

The Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, had ordered a census throughout the whole empire, when all the people would be counted, and taxed.  The orders spread along straight Roman roads, and were proclaimed first in the white marble cities and ports, and then in the towns and villages of the countryside.

Even quiet Nazareth heard the news, and Mary and Joseph began to gather together their belongings, ready to travel to Bethlehem.  That…

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The Little Christmas Tree and Mary’s Song

Andrea Skevington

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Today was the first really frosty day of the winter,  so I took my camera out for a walk with me, through the woods to the river.  As I walked, I was thinking about the story of The Little Christmas Tree, and how it connects with the story of Mary, mother of Jesus.  It had been on my mind since going to a talk by Rowan Williams at Grundisburgh Church (you can listen to the talk here , it is well worth listening to).

The Little Christmas tree is not strong and proud, thinking itself important.  It knows it is smaller than the other trees, and far less imposing.  What it does have to offer is shelter, hospitality, for the small animals and birds who are blown about in the storm.  It also has a song to sing, a lullaby, at which “even the wind hushed to listen”.

Early in…

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Pulling up trees

An autumnal version of this is happening in today’s golden sunshine. Quickly, before the seedlings lose their leaves and are just little brown sticks.!

Andrea Skevington

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I am sure that all of us who are have responsibility for a little bit of land know what it is to turn your back for a while, then find  it is growing with such glorious, irrepressible speed that you have no hope of getting it back to whatever plan you had.  If, like me, you have a secret preference for wildflowers and woods, it can be hard to pull things up.  I keep the runaway primroses and bluebells – but runaway trees!  Much as I love a wood, I have to remove them. The tension, wanting but not wanting order, is something I explore in this small poem.  I also touch on the more-than-reality of fairy tales, so often expressing some of the deeper workings of our spirits.

Pulling up trees

How quickly this place becomes a wood!
Last year, while I was sleeping,
seeds fell and grew, fell…

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