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Rejoice #AtoZChallenge

This year my A to Z challenge is about Christmas, a major festival in the Christian Church. Another major festival is Easter, which I wrote about for the A to Z Challenge in 2020.

Rejoice is a word very much associated with Christmas. The song of Mary in Luke 1:46-55 has her spirit rejoicing. The shepherds were given news of great joy by the angel of the Lord. They visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem and returned glorifying and praising God for all that they had seen. That is surely another way of saying they rejoiced.

My A to Z challenge posts about important words in the Bible included rejoice.

Many Christmas carols are about rejoicing. I have chosen the Advent carol Hills of the north, rejoice for his post.

Although my A to Z posts are on the theme of Christmas, in the western world we are now in the season of Easter. Resurrection Sunday (or Easter Day) was on Sunday. This is Easter week – a time to rejoice.

While this year’s A to Z badges by Anjela Curtis honour the late Jeremy Hawkins, I hope that my posts about Christmas honour Jesus Christ, ‘who was and is and is to come’. Revelation 1:4

Today I also have a guest post on the Blogging from A to Z in April blog.

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Advent, Annunciation and Angels #AtoZChallenge

This year my A to Z challenge theme is Christmas, a major festival in the Christian Church. Another major festival is Easter, which I wrote about for the A to Z Challenge in 2020.

The Christmas season is one of feasting. It is preceded by a season of preparation known as Advent. Advent is a word derived from Latin. It means the arrival of an important person. In Advent Christians remember the arrival of Jesus on earth as a baby and look forward to his second coming. Matthew 24:30-31

Annunciation is another word with its origins in Latin. It means to proclaim or announce someone’s arrival. In the story of Advent and Christmas the Annunciation was the appearance of the Angel Gabriel to Mary. The angel announced that Mary would give birth to a son named Jesus, whose kingdom would never end. The story may be found in Luke 1:26-38

The whole Christmas story could be told in this post by focussing on the part angels played in it. The angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah in the temple and foretold the birth of John the baptiser, who was to prepare the way for the Messiah. Luke 1:5-23

An Angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. Matthew 1:18-24

Angels announced the birth of the Messiah (the Christ) to shepherds Luke 2:8-15

In my A to Z in 2020 my post for A was Angels. Angels are messengers from God. In the Christmas story every appearance of one or more angels was an annunciation.

The Angel of the Lord’s annunciation was to Zechariah, the Angel Gabriel’s to Mary and an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds with another annunciation. Then the shepherds saw a large number of angels and heard them praising God.

Another post I wrote in 2015 describes what Advent can be like for people involved with music in the Church.

Angels from the realms of glory is a popular carol about these topics.

While this year’s A to Z badges by Anjela Curtis honour the late Jeremy Hawkins, I hope that my posts about Christmas honour Jesus Christ, ‘who was and is and is to come’. Revelation 1:4

Two books I read in November 2020

This post includes reviews of two e-books, which are also available in other formats.

Songs for a Saviour’s Birth by William Philip

Book cover

I read Songs for a Saviour’s Birth as an ebook, which I received free from the publisher, IVP as a ‘thank you’ for completing a survey. I had great difficulty downloading it and finding an app, which could open it, so was not in the best frame of mind when I began reading it using the EPUB Reader app. It is a short book, with five chapters and a commendation. It is also available as a paperback.

As I continued reading I regained a sense of joy. The book is well-written and brings out the excitement of the story as told by Luke. William Philip is ideally qualified to write about the early chapters of Luke’s gospel – he is a physician turned pastor, whereas Luke was a physician who became an evangelist. The book is written in a way, which encourages believers and explains the story to those, who have not previously had a clear explanation of the story. This is an Advent book I found to be compulsive reading and therefore recommend. (Advent  this year is from Sunday 29 November and to Christmas Eve, 24 December, inclusive.)

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

Book cover

The first book I read this year was Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland. When I found another of her books on BorrowBox, I selected it (not having been put off by some strong language in the other book). The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae :Ailsa Rae survived now she needs to learn to live… is set in Edinburgh, a city I visited for a day in 2018. (Coincidentally 2018 was part of the timeline for The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae.)

I could relate to the description of the confusing railway station and some of the other places mentioned. The story of someone, who needed a heart transplant is told as a blog, second-person narrative and email correspondence. There is sadness and humour. The experience of the protagonist seems authentic. (Among my friends and acquaintances there are at least two recipients of vital organs.) I really enjoyed this book, which I read in a few days. It was written before the opt-out legislation for organ donation was introduced in England. In Scotland the law is not changing until 2021. https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/uk-laws/