Advent, Day 5: When This is Over

When this is over,
may we never again
take for granted
A handshake with a stranger
Full shelves at the store
Conversations with neighbors
A crowded theater
Friday night out
The taste of communion
A routine checkup
The school rush each morning
Coffee with a friend
The stadium roaring
Each deep breath
A boring Tuesday
Life itself.

When this ends
may we find
that we have become
more like the people
we wanted to be
we were called to be
we hoped to be
and may we stay
that way — better
for each other
because of the worst.

by Laura Kelly

This post, chosen by Irene, is part of our online “Advent calendar”, taking us through to Christmas. You can see all the posts here.

Advent, Day 4: Christmas Cookies

These biscuits, cut into festive shapes, have become a staple at Messy Christmas. To decorate, follow the Messy rule: no icing too bright, and there’s no such thing as too many sprinkles.

Ingredients

  • 175 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 400 grams plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

To make the dough

Beat the butter and sugar together, and then add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined.

Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the mixture and fold in until you get a soft dough. If it’s too sticky then add a little more flour but it shouldn’t be too stiff.

Divide the dough in two and wrap each piece in clingfilm. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour – it will last in the fridge for a few days quite happily, and can also be frozen and used later.

To make the biscuits

Preheat oven to 180ºC/160°C Fan/gas mark 4/350ºF

Roll out the dough on a floured surface using a floured rolling pin until about 1/2cm thick.

Cut out biscuits and place on baking sheets (these biscuits don’t spread too much when baking, but still leave gaps between them)

Bake for around 10-12 minutes until the edges are golden.

Ice and decorate when cool. (300g icing sugar made up with a little hot water – add a few teaspoons at a time, you need a lot less water than you think – will make plenty icing. Add food colouring if wanted.)

This recipe was originally taken from Nigella Lawson’s book How to be a Domestic Goddess

This post is part of our online “Advent calendar”, taking us through to Christmas. You can see all the posts here.

Advent, Day 3: Christian Aid

Today we remember, and give thanks for, the work of Christian Aid.

We join them in their prayer chain, praying with all who are waiting for the relentlessness to stop, with those living in refugee camps who have also faced the challenges of climate change as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

In usual times, we would be collecting for the Christian Aid Christmas Appeal during our services at this time of year, so please consider supporting their important work building hope for communities in crisis, by donating online:

This post is part of our online “Advent calendar”, taking us through to Christmas. You can see all the posts here.

Advent, Day 1: An Icelandic Story

Image: Night Sky, Snæfellsnes, Iceland by Conor MacNeill

‘At the beginning of the Christmas season, if possible on the first Sunday of Advent, Benedikt would pack food, changes of socks and several pairs of new leather shoes in a knapsack, and with these a small oil stove with a can of kerosene and a small flask of spirits.

Then he would take the way to the mountains, the desolate mountains of Iceland, where at this season of the year nothing was to be found but birds of prey, hard and cruel as winter itself, foxes, and a few scattered sheep, lost and wandering about.

And it was for the sake of these sheep that he went forth, animals which had not been found at the regular autumn in–gathering. They too were living creatures of God and he felt a kind of responsibility for them.  His aim was simple enough – to find them and bring them safe and sound under shelter before the great festival should spread its benediction on the earth.’

From The Good Shepherd by Gunnar Gunnarsson.  
Translated by Kenneth C Kaufmann
©1940  The Bobbs-Merrill Company.

This post, chosen by Anna, is the first in our “Advent calendar”, taking us through to Christmas. You can see all the posts here.