Christmas realism and keeping dying faith alive

It is rather a tired Christmas cliché for preachers to go on about how we need to get beyond the tinsel and trimmings to the heart of Christmas - but one that sadly needs repeating. And while I love what Christmas is all about it, perhaps even more now than ever, it is interesting how different aspects strike home amidst all the familiarity and form. There's no predicting what it's going to be, if anything. But this year, I've been struck by how often the tradition pierces through the vacuous, trite and superficially jolly to engage with even the deepest hurts and doubts.

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A Cryptic Review of 2012

As another year draws to its inevitable demise, I've been occupying my little, rather trivial mind with trying to create a cryptic crossword to commemorate some of the big moments. Obviously, it's not been possible to ensure that every clue is strictly relevant - but a fair number of them are. So that's good, then. I have already spotted at least one error (thoughit'smore one of cryptic tightness than incorrect lettering or numbering) and no doubt the eagle-eyed will find others. But it's a stab - and although I say so myself, there are a handful that I'm quite pleased with. It will, therefore, no doubt bring joy and delight to countless millions.

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Q’s Christmas Competition 2012: 4 x Cross-Examined e-Books to win!

Well, this is a first: a Quaerentia competition with REAL prizes (rather than the virtual Crunchie bars which I've so generously offered in the past! But the lovely people at IVP have given me a few free downloads of the recently published e-book of Cross-Examined. VERY exciting. Just what you always wanted for Christmas I'm sure. I completely realise that it's themes are more to do with Good Friday and Easter Day, but it seemed reasonable enough to give them away for Christmas.

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Testifying to the Prince of Peace in today’s Bethlehem

Many people wanted to know more about the short clip I played during my sermon this morning. So i'm posting it here. I only came across it this week, through twitter (needless to say), but it fitted perfectly with the passage I was speaking on: Luke 2:67-80 and Zechariah's song. The five minute film was made by a bunch of New Zealanders, called St Paul's Arts & Media and is beautifully and powerfully made. Definitely worth making it go viral

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Friday Fun 33: Christmas Moments on Instagram

So it seems our very human rights and liberties are being threatened by Instagram's change of terms. Or they're not. Or not in quite the same way. Well who knows? Just in case they do decide to pilfer my works of art for their own heinous ends, I thought I'd display some of my chefs d'oeuvre from around London in recent weeks to put us all into a bit of a Christmas spirit. Enjoy... while the world still exists...

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This Advent: What are you waiting for?

We're right in the midst of Advent now (i.e. it's not officially Christmas yet): carol services by the tonne, twinkly lights passim (Oxford St lights brought to you courtesy of Marmite - you read that right - MARMITE = end of civilisation as we know it), consumerism at its peak. But we kicked off the month a few weeks back with an Advent carol service - taking the obvious theme of waiting.We tried to shake things up a little (in our somewhat amateurish way, trying various multimedia bits and bobs).

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Friday Fun 32: How to live your life to the MAX

This is a serious bit of randomness (or should that be randomity?) from my son (Bananamationman) and his best chum Tyler (Tee_Po). They were at a loose end a couple of weekends ago and so crafted this raster superb and searing satire on the self-help industry. I'd even go so far as to say it was prophetic, actually. Almost pythonesque, in fact. Watch, and be inspired.

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When ‘sorry’ seems the most ambiguous word

Many bloggers have touched on this subject in recent years, but here's a little thought to throw into the mix. And it all revolves around the ambiguity of language. People often exploit it, whether intentionally or not; because at the very least, such ambiguity gives us wriggle room, or even a place to hide. I'm talking about the problem with 'saying sorry'

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