Advent 2018 #21: Family Gathering

Sydney weather hasn’t been great recently. I have to say I’m over the afternoon and evening storms.

They’re such a disruption to everything calm and peaceful that I want in an evening, particularly if it’s at the end of a work day. The whole light and sound show isn’t really my cup of tea. Cups of tea are my cup of tea. (I write, consuming one…)

Yet I will say the flashes of light across the sky are impressive. It’s the thunder I can’t stand. The Bible has a fair bit to say about thunder and lightning.

How great is God – beyond all understanding! The number of his years is past finding out… He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth. After that comes the sound of his roar; he thunders with his majestic voice. When his voice resounds, he holds nothing back. God’s voice thunders in marvellous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.

Fortunately I won’t have to deal with Sydney weather for a while soon, as I’ll be in Melbourne; but I’m not sure if that’ll be an improvement.

However, just as Mary and Joseph did a fair bit of travelling on that very first Christmas, so do many of us at this time of year.

I’m not heading to my home town, but I am heading to my older brother’s home for a family gathering. A family gathering minus my younger brother in the UK, I should add.

I actually love family gatherings, aka relo bashes. I’m quite disappointed I’ll be missing the relo bash with my dad’s side of the family in January due to nose surgery the day before.

At least I get to fly down to Melbourne to be with family at Christmas time. It’s lovely to watch young children (my brother’s) experience such joy and delight opening their presents. As selfless as it makes me sound I think I actually enjoy their joy more than I enjoy my presents.

Gifting of very expensive jewellery and perfume could change that for me though… 😉

Yet seriously, there is something about the priceless experience of watching childhood delight that is better than jewellery with lots of carats (not that it’s a bad thing…)

Children just understand the joy; they embody the wonder in a way that adults seem to struggle with when it comes to Christmas.

Just thinking about the smiles of my nieces and nephew on the 25th makes me feel good. Well, their smiles until they start fighting with each other.

Although I don’t know how excited the nieces are going to be about the dresses I made for them. They might be a bit too big…

Although that (definitely unintentionally) is like God’s gift to us at Christmas. A little bit too big.

He does great things beyond our understanding.

We don’t ‘get’ Christmas. We don’t ‘get’ Jesus. I don’t ‘get’ Jesus.

Mild he lays his glory by, 
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.

That’s how Charles Wesley explained it. God puts himself, as a defenceless baby, in an animals’ feeding trough.

It’s wack. It’s utterly wack.

I think HNAC Alison would be an atheist because she’d think the claims of Christianity are preposterous.

And yet, the claims are why unbridled childlike joy is the exact right response on Christmas morning. Jesus came to earth to do what none of us could: take ourselves into the afterlife, with life.

I don’t like thunder. There’s something merciless about it that gets to me.

The opposite of mercy is judgement.

Christmas is all about mercy; God’s mercy. It’s his rescue mission, pulling humanity out of its flawed self and into spiritual life.

God’s voice thunders in marvellous ways.

Sometimes it’s through the cry of a little baby boy, lying in a manger.

Other than Christmas Day, I’m not sure what I’ll be doing while I’m in Melbourne. In a previous festive season in Melbourne we went to the MCG on Boxing Day.

When I think of cricket, among other things I think of the 12th Man albums and in particular the Marvellous song, which I credit with helping me remember how to spell the word.

Cricket is a great game (be greater if we could win a bit more) but M A R V E L L O U S does really belong with describing God and not what’s happening at the MCG (or the Gabba, or the Wacca…doesn’t matter).

Christmas truly is astonishing.

Yours in Melbourne,


Photo by Any Lane on

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