Thursday, December 25, 2014
Today Christians celebrate something very implausible -- the incarnation -- when the great God over all poured himself into the body of a baby and subsequently lived a life as a normal human being. It takes a lot to believe that and the whole thing was a matter of great dispute among the early Christians. Jesus himself did after all say: "My Father is greater than I" (John 14:28).
But along came Athanasius' Egyptian doctrine of the Trinity to quell disputes and to make some sense of it all: The doctrine of three persons in the one God. It's not a doctrine mentioned anywhere in Christian scripture -- as I often point out -- but perhaps it is needed to make sense of the implausible. That we cannot hope to understand Godhead is after all a reasonable claim.
Partly at urging from Anne, I attended a service at my local branch of the Church of England yesterday evening: Holy Trinity Anglican Church Woolloongabba. It's a nice-looking church, and well-maintained
To my amazement, the church was full with a good cross-section of people . I rather liked that as I see Christianity as a civilizing influence. I thought initially that most came simply for the Xmas carols -- which were promised and delivered -- but it seems I was wrong. It was a Communion service and almost all of the congregation went forward to get the biscuit.
Rev. Paschke's sermon was pedestrian, with God "rolling up his sleeves" rather a lot -- an image I could not get with at all. But one expects an Anglican sermon to be inoffensive junk. I just went there for the carols.
Given my very fundamentalist early life, there was a lot more Popery in the service than I liked but I guess that I am a bit of a dinosaur there. "Popery" is probably condemned only in Northern Ireland these days
Anyway, after the service, which finished about 8pm, Anne made me a dinner of grilled lamb cutlets and salad, one of my favourite foods.
And for lunch today I went out to the family gathering at Suz & Russell's place. Because so many of us were interstate or abroad, there were only 9 adults and 2 littlies present but it was still a pleasant occasion. The littlies certainly made up in volume for what they lacked in numbers, with Dusty in particular giving an exhibition of perpetual motion.
I woke up earlier than usual (for me) so went straight out to the house. I was the first to arrive at around 8am. Suz had declared it an open house so that was OK, though. I was the first to arrive. It gave me the chance of a few chats with Russ. My early rising did catch up with me, however, I napped on a verandah couch for most of the time between morning tea and lunch.
We had lots of morning-tea food followed at lunchtime by a big leg of ham which was well cooked by Russell, with potato salad. For the morning-tea finger food, Davey brought along some "piggies in blankets" -- small sausages wrapped in puff pastry -- which I particularly liked. I think I had at least 6 of them. Puff pastry and sausages are both definite weaknesses of mine. And for dessert we had one of Maureen's excellent pavlovas. I talked mainly with Russell and Jenny.
Secret Santa got me 7 bottles of Clayton's, which must have involved a bit of scouting around. I drink a lot of it so it will soon go down. It's a surprisingly satisfying drink, though now very much out of fashion. Davey helped by carrying it downstairs for me. Suz & Russell's house is built on very sloping ground and that seems to have required a rather long and steep entry staircase. The position of the house is very good, however. It has native bush on one side so we ate our food looking out at a native Australian forest of gum trees. Like most Australians, I like our gum trees.
I was the Secret Santa for Jenny but in my usual way I forgot to bring the present with me. Everyone is used to me being "Mr Forgetful", however, so no-one was surprised. Jenny will drop in to my place to pick it up when she is next over my way.
We also played our usual present-grabbing game -- out of which I got a bottle of red wine that looks good.
Some amusing bits:
We had all recently seen two very widely circulated videos which show you how to fold a shirt and how to fold a Japanese present.
Maureen is a folder from way back so said that her method was very similar to the Japanese method -- which Ken, being Ken, immediately disagreed with. Maureen was not oppressed, though. She promptly handed Ken some paper and told him to show how it should be done. Ken had a short attempt and them gave up. He declared that you can know when a thing is wrong even if you yourself do not know the right way. That produced some hilarity, though it is of course correct.
Then Davey put his foot in it. He is inclined to large claims so he claimed that he could do the shirt folding. Again Maureen put him on the spot. She found a kiddy shirt and told him to fold it. Dave did not do well initially but eventually got a result that we passed. We had a lot of laughs
And there was a Christmas across the water in NZ too. And lots of us sent presents in acknowledgement. Von has a big pictorial recollection of it on her blog but I thought I might put up a pic of the presents I sent over. They arrived in a parcel on Christmas Eve so that was good timing. Jenny packed and posted it for me. There is a colourful trowel for Hannah's garden activities, plus a moneybox in the form of an old pillarbox plus a kiddy-size dustpan and brush. Hannah likes to have her own things.