Dec 25, 2014 – Our ‘not Christmas’ was a lovely day, a jolly day; I almost want to say a holy day, because we were with some of God’s people and it was so enjoyable.
That day is a problem for those of us who have learned its pagan origins. This year was the best so far. We were invited to lunch at the home of John and Trish, a couple who, with others, founded our church about 15 years ago.
There were 14 of us, counting Trish’s mother Squib (her nickname), who lives with them. The roast turkey and ham, pudding and mince pies etc were all delicious, but it was the company and the conversation which was outstanding.
Rose, who is planning her 100th birthday next May, is always jolly and cracking jokes. Down at my end of the table she was talking about how she came to know the Lord Jesus – it all started when she was in her 80s with a fox that was destroying her garden! (I’ll put that story in sometime….)
Then Stella,a twice widowed retired nurse sitting next to me, told me about finding her first husband – and how the Lord engineered it. (Another story for another article…)
Other conversations included some aspects of Bible prophecy, notably the coming Russian invasion of Israel described in Ezekiel 38-39.
Also on the conversational agenda was a lady we all knew and loved, Trish Hoskins, who had recently passed away in a nursing home. Her friend had brought along a picture of Trish as a beautiful young girl at the controls of an airplane in Australia. Trish not only could fly - she could think! And because she could think straight, she became a Christian as a young woman, and then her adventures really began! (Another story for another day; I'll tell you all about Trish and her smuggling activities taking Bibles into Communist countries.)
But back to our wonderful lunch - one of the ladies had her lunch upstairs, where Squib has an apartment, and is now too ill to come downstairs.
Later, gathered around the wood burner, one of the men read out Mary’s song from Luke chapter 1 and we just talked about how remarkable that young Jewish girl was (an is, but is not to be worshipped or prayed to!).
We all trooped upstairs for a sing song with Squib, singing from the Songs of Fellowship book, with people choosing their favourite hymns and choruses.
Then it was back downstairs for coffee and tea. I stayed upstairs to show Squib and two other ladies some of my rock collection, which I had brought along just for fun.
My rock collection consists of two parts – the fossils and rocks that are evidence of Noah’s Flood and others which are so beautiful and fascinating that they are just wonders of God. Some rocks I found; some I bought at rock shops.
Then I took the rocks downstairs to show the others, and there was general agreement that I should take them to show the Sunday School children.
Some of us at one end of the room played a silly game which you could call the Adjective Game or the Minister's Cat game*. The first person starts with A, next person B, etc around the circle. Each one says: ‘The minister’s cat is a ………. cat,’ supplying an adjective for the cat that starts with the next letter of the alphabet.
For example, the first one says perhaps: ‘The minister’s cat is an able cat’; the next person has B, so ‘The minister’s cat is a beautiful cat’; and so on. I told you it was silly! But it is fun. And to make it harder you can clap and keep time, and if you can’t think of an adjective soon enough, you are out of the game. But we don’t keep time, and no one gets put out of the game.
Then one of the ladies, little Joan as she is known, said: ‘We used to play that with hymns; the first line of a hymn.’ So we tried that game and little Joan started with A - she came up with Amazing Grace. Little Joan and Stella excelled at that game – they know all the old hymns! I wish I did; I was struggling. Being brought up in the Catholic church, we really didn’t learn many hymns at all, and coming to faith in Christ at the age of 36, they were completely new to me.
Then we decided to use the alphabet game for scriptures and go round, thinking up a scripture or a Bible phrase that started with each letter. This is not as easy as you might think! When I got the letter B, my mind went blank! Then someone said: ‘Think of the Beatitudes.’ Of course! Stupid me! ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!’ Wow; I love the B’s!
It was altogether a blessed day – there’s that B again! There was no alcohol; we really don’t need it. There was no tree; we don't need that either. No lights. Why would we need special lights, when we have the Light of the World?
The day was so special because the people were so special - people who all know the Savior of the world. And it was made possible by our friends John and Trish, whose house it was at. Always in the background, serving meals, serving drinks, helping people in many ways - faithful servants, as the Lord wants us all to be, but as so few of us really are.
Their guests were mostly people who could not repay their hospitality by inviting them back - just what Jesus told us to do. They will shine like stars one day when the Lord gives out His rewards. You might think, 'Oh well, they must be rich to be able to seat 14 people at their table.' No, actually, they are retired and on a low income. God provides, folks! He is Jehovah Jireh, the God Who Provides.
It was wonderful being with like-minded people, each of whom understood the remarkable truth that God Himself became a man, born in Bethlehem, so that He could go to the cross and take the penalty of sin for each of us who believe in Him. 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.' John 3:16
So there we are – I hope this might help someone get through next December if we are all still here, and maybe provide a blessed day for others at your own home. But no need to wait a whole year!
* Since writing this, a reader has kindly emailed the youtube clip of the Minister's Cat game in the film Scrooge. The clip lasts about 3 minutes and is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8UyP3RQC60 I watched it and realized we had been playing it differently. The film version is much better, where everyone has to do the same letter until someone slips up and then they go on to the next letter. This is a really great game for children to build vocabulary. You can download lists of adjectives for them to consult, or even let them use a dictionary each while playing.