The Christmas season affords many photographic opportunities ... some of them staged ... and Eliot is often the poor victim of this kind of picture. Over the years he's become a most tolerant dog ... just letting his owner arrange soft toys, silly ear-muffs and other human items as he lies in a state of semi-stupor.
A more disciplined approach on my part would have been to move him off the sofa where he's not supposed to be ... but then ... I've have missed the pictures! No doubt one of them will feature in the next parish magazine with some suitably scathing comment about owners who make their pets look silly.
The jigsaw puzzle in the background is one of those infamous two sided challenging ones that has baked beans on one side and sprouts on the other! Once it was completed a friend had it framed in double sided glass so that the memory of the torture could linger for generations! I've still not begun the one with Smarties ... on both sides!
Normal church life at this season is a mixture of Advent Candles, Jesse Tree and, yesterday, the Christingle.
We had a good turn out for the service and all of the Christingle packs were taken away to be assembled at home. The tradition is an old one from the eighteenth century borrowed from the Moravian church and although popular with children has the deeper theological themes of creation, incarnation and redemption bound up in the symbolism.
Rather than light the candle in the pack during the service we use an extra candle so that for the last hymn the electric lights are switched off and we sing by candlelight ... of course ... with an eleven o'clock service we end up with more sunshine than candlelight. Perhaps that too is a parable of the greater light that outshines all other lights!
I always have an Advent Wreath at home ... so, as in church, the third (rose coloured) candle was lit on the third Sunday of Advent. This is the Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday, the mid point in Advent and a reminder from the Epistle (Philippians 4) to rejoice.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
It's not long now until the final two candles will be lit ... and there are one or two things to be done before that!
There's a carol service tonight ... a school concert tomorrow ... the usual Holy Communion in church on Wednesday ... various home communions ... sadly, a funeral on Thursday ... and preparations for Nine Lessons and Carols in Saint Nicholas' on Sunday ...
It is a week of great variety and anticipation ... a time of joy and sorrow mixed ... and days to think of the awesome story of God sending Jesus into the world, into an ordinary family, to become one of us.