Christmas at the bandstand

On the Sunday before Christmas and on Christmas day, we met to share and to pray and – yes – even to SING (our once a year concession to Wendy in singing a carol!!).  Grayden began with:

Be the faith (I need this Advent)
I feel like giving up waiting, God.
It’s too hard to keep asking ‘how long?’
When I read the prophets their questions are
just the same as mine,
but thousands of years older.

I read the newspaper,
I look at the world through my TV screen,
and even the world that’s inside me –
and I have to wonder whether you’ve got it right

and to be honest,
if I’m asking the same questions as Isaiah did

(when, God, when?) -
then what difference did this birth make?

So in spite of my cynicism, come, Jesus

in spite of my faithlessness, bring love and justice to earth

in spite of all I know to be rational, be born again.

Be the faith I need this advent.

This seemed to fit in with Wend’s reading of Longfellow’s poem written after the tragic death of his wife and news of his son wounded in war which begins ‘I heard the bells on Christmas Day’ and uses the refrain ‘Of peace on earth, good will to men!’ It’s a poem that acknowledges how hard it is to hang on to the faith that those words of the angels bear any reality in our experience of terror and corruption and illness and loss.

It’s been a year of real joys but very real sorrows for many of us, so it was important to return to the message of Christmas, of Christ’s coming, of the incarnation and of his insistance that the kingdom of God which begins so small and fragile, will grow, will prevail, will defeat death, will conquer evil, will have the last word…

As we have done each year for the last few years, we burned the luggage labels that have hung attached to the shepherd’s crook since last Christmas. On these we wrote our prayers for those who most needed the care of the Good Shepherd in the coming year.


We wrote our new prayer lables then, which will be there for us to see at each meal at Holly House – a reminder that even if we forget, those prayers are there before God all year.


Barbara interspersed contributions with the pulling of Christmas crackers into which hse had inserted blessings. Here are the blessings we prayed for one another:

May the God who says “comfort ye” number you among “his people

and may you know the joy, peace and goodwill of the Christmas season.

May the glory of the Lord be revealed to you and yours this Christmas time.

For unto us a child is born” and he is called Emmanuel,

May you know God with you this Christmas and throughout the coming year.

“Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace”,

May you know the reality of God through Jesus this Christmas and in 2016.

May you know the light that came into the darkness,

May that light shine brightly through you and into this dark world today and throughout the coming year.

God chose Mary a female child, in an occupied land, with no vote, no rights, no education, no husband; just a peasant girl…

It was in picking someone so ordinary to care for his son that God shows us how special we all are.

May you know how much you are special and loved this Christmas time.

The birth of a tiny child changed the world and brought love, forgiveness, healing, release and justice into a world of conflict and greed.

May you be blessed by the Son of God and be seen as an ambassador for the Kingdom of Love.

Do not be afraid I bring you good news of peace and goodwill and the love of God.

May the song of the Christmas angels resonate in your home and in your whole being.

Felicitations, Best Wishes, Hail, Greetings, Grace –

Coming from God through his Son this Christmas time.

May you know the blessings and Good Will of our Saviour in your life now and throughout the comin the nearness of the Good Shepherdg year.

John shared his ‘We dance wild’ poem which he has posted below. That lifted and inspired us! And we ended with bread and wine and then this final blessing, which we share with all our friends of Soulspace and those far away who follow our blogs:

So this Advent, here’s hoping and praying for….

Joy as we journey together…

Sight for the blind and healing for the sick,

Freedom for the prisoners and good news for the poor,

Release for the oppressed with justice for all

and love for each other.

And the coming of God’s topsy-turvy, inside out, upside-down Kingdom.


Happy New Year to you all!!


Last Stand at the Bandstand

This was our last Third Space of 2015and we each brought a piece of poetry, prose or thought to encouage each other. Barbara brought  christmas crackers which included the obligatory awful jokes, but also contained wonderful blessings.  Jon brought “We Dance Wild” :


We dance. We dance wild.
Not a two step, structured repetition. We dance large.
We dance flailing arms.
We dance the erratic and the wriggle,
the blunder, stumble and fall with no need to get back up again.
For our fumbles are our dance
and our dance is our rebellion and our declaration and our surrender.
Our falling to the floor is a knowing that it is only in the places
of dust and grime and footprint, only in the failed step and the rusty body, only in the falling
that we can ever truly meet the holy and the sacred.
We meet God on the floor.

So we choose to not rise too quickly,
to not keep ourselves together,
to not think we have this nailed,
this life, this God, this mystery, this question.
Our dancing is our stumbling and our stumbling is our dancing
and how disorderly we may seem,
and how undignified and messy,
we dive headfirst into not having the answers,
giving ourselves to a more spacious rhythm.
The song that is heard only in the silence,
only in the listening ear,
only in the unexplored landscape.
The whisper at the edges.

We find ourselves
when we lose ourselves.
The wilderness and the wild.
The Christ who gathers.
The Christ who descends.
The giving up of control.
The smallness of humility.
The largeness of the mystery.
The immensity of seeking the sacred in everything.
Never running from life
but plunging ourselves more wholly into her.
We dance and we feel our lumbered bodies begin to move.
We dance and we feel the heavy begin to take flight.
We dance to find liberation.

We dance to bring redemption,
the untwisting of the beautiful,
We dance to the new rhythm, the ancient rhythm, the holy rhythm,
the rhythm that holds it all together.
We dance to bring space.
We dance to hold hands.
We dance and we dance and we dance and we dance
until we are dizzy and falling.
We dance. We dance wild.

We are the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks

© (written by Joel McKerrow)