By In Politics

Recipes and readings for Advent (2)

One of our members at Emmanuel in London, Lucie Brear, has compiled a fantastic collection of recipes and suggested Scripture readings for advent. If you want to discover a traditional English way to prepare for Christmas, then just read on! I’ll post them here one week at a time. Here’s the second:

A Medieval Christmas: Fast Days and Fish Days

Christmas conjures up images of a host of culinary delights. It is a time of feasting and merry-making, celebrating the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Medieval times, feasting at Christmas was commonplace, though there are striking differences in what was eaten and served at Christmas time then as compared to now. There was a version of Christmas pudding (or ‘Christmas porridge’, as it was then known) but generally speaking, there were not as many Christmas-specific foods as there are now. The same sorts of things were eaten at Christmas as during the rest of the year, though in greater abundance.

Fast and Feast by Bridget Ann Henisch is filled with detailed and fascinating information on food and feasting in Medieval society. Here is what the author has to say on Christmas:


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By In Culture, Family and Children

Recipes and readings for Advent (1)

One of our members at Emmanuel in London, Lucie Brear, has compiled a fantastic collection of recipes and suggested Scripture readings for advent. If you want to discover a traditional English way to prepare for Christmas, then just read on! I’ll post them here one week at a time. Here’s the first:

Stir Up Sunday

The first Sunday before advent, which this year fell on November 26th, is traditionally known as Stir Up Sunday, when families gather together to mix and steam the Christmas pudding.

The term comes from the opening words of the collect for the day in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer:

“Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Christmas pudding would traditionally contain 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and his disciples. Practically, stirring the mixture is hard work, so as many family members as possible join in the task. The pudding mixture is stirred from East to West in honour of the Magi (three wise men) who visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The customary garnish of holly represents the crown of thorns.

Most recipes for Christmas pudding require it to be cooked well in advance of Christmas and then reheated on Christmas day – but even though Stir Up Sunday has passed, there’s still plenty of time to prepare your pudding. You may even want to follow this traditional Victorian recipe, made with shredded beef suet.


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By In Family and Children, Theology

A word to sons… and therefore to all of us

I’d like to say a few words by way of challenge to young men as they’re growing up. It concerns how they relate to their parents, particularly (but not exclusively) their fathers.

This will be most obviously relevant to young men who are approaching adulthood. At the same time, it will also be relevant in various ways to the rest of us. For as Paul writes in Galatians 3:26, all of us are sons of our Heavenly Father through faith in Christ.One of the great temptations of young men as they grow older is the wrong kind of competitiveness.

As boys grow into men, they enter what we might call a different relational “space”. That is, they (rightly) start to relate as men to other people, such as their parents and siblings. They start exercising leadership, initiative, and a new kind of emotional strength. This is all good, but it brings some dangers. (more…)

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By In Counseling/Piety, Family and Children, Theology, Wisdom

Like turning a container ship

One of the most striking and unexpected lessons I’ve learned over the last decade or so is that repentance is hard.

Very hard.

Initially this came as something of a surprise. Like most people, I used to cling to the instinctive idea that we’re basically in control of our lives, that we can make rational choices about which of our desires to follow and which should be resisted, and so on. But a few years of experience – both of helping other people to deal with their sinful, foolish and destructive habits, and in dealing with my own – have kicked that idea firmly into the long grass.


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By In Culture, Politics, Pro-Life, Theology

Abortion and moral schizophrenia

Last Saturday here in London, UK, we read about the heartbreaking case of the youngest victim of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Logan Gomes. The child of Marcio and Andreia Gomes, Logan was as yet unborn when the fire struck. His mother Andreia was taken to hospital following her escape, where doctors discovered that poisonous fumes from the blaze had claimed the life of the unborn child. Logan was born while Andreia was in an induced coma, and Mr Gomes was faced with the unthinkable task of breaking the news of his youngest child’s death to his wife and the couple’s other daughters, Megan and Luana.

Just a few days previously, we read that “the UK’s largest doctors union”, the British Medical Association, “has called for the complete decriminalisation of abortion and for women to have access to terminations on demand.” The article continues, “If the BMA gets its way, medics would not face criminal sanctions for providing, or women for procuring, an abortion in any circumstances, at any stage in a pregnancy.”

That is to say, the largest union of doctors in the UK is calling for the legalisation of the deliberate killing of children at precisely the same stage of life as young Logan Gomes. The BMA (an association of doctors – people with the job of saving lives) wants the law make abortion legal for any reason whatever, at any stage of pregnancy, right up to birth.

What are we to make of this?


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By In Family and Children, Theology, Wisdom

How to fail in the pursuit of godliness

I want to say a few words about a common way in which we often fail to grow in godliness. As it happens, parents also sometimes make a similar mistake in raising their children, with the result that their kids go off the rails as they approach independent adulthood.


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By In Family and Children

Having fun with little children

A guest post by Nicole Jeffery.

I was recently asked by a friend what I filled my days with when my kids were small. Like many other mums, she’s convinced that she’s in the best position to raise her daughter ‘in the discipline and instruction of the Lord’. But being at home all day long with tiny kids can be a bit of a crunch in the gears when you’ve been used to pursuing a career elsewhere. And when all those new mums you’ve been getting to know start cheerily heading back to the office and you’re left all alone in the park with your baby, life can feel pretty directionless. Just a single day can feel long and empty and, if we’re honest, a curious mixture of dull and stressful.

My friend’s question got me thinking, so I started digging back into some of my old notes, books and photos.  What follows is a fairly random selection of some of the things I did with our kids in those precious early years. As a family we certainly didn’t get everything right. And even the things that worked out well for us may not all suit you. Some may be impractical where you live or with your particular children. But hopefully they will encourage and inspire you to make the best use of these fleeting early years.


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