The conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn has just passed after an absence of hundreds of years. Some call this the Christmas Star or the Bethlehem Star. In this year of fires, floods, racial and social unrest, and a world-wide pandemic it is perhaps a time to take stock and to reflect on the story not of this planetary alignment, but of the star of the Gospel account. It was a harbinger of the coming of Emmanuel, God with us. It marked a transition in our relationship with the divine. The age of the Fall of Adam was coming to an end, and a promised saviour, the Messiah had come.
That did not mean that wars and rumours of wars, or fires, floods, and misfortune were coming to an end – 2020 surely shows us that. What it does say is there is a hope that is greater than those trials that is opened to us.
As I was reflecting on this I picked three YouTube videos to share which capture some of my thoughts. The first speaks of the coming of Emmanuel. The other two of the stresses and strains that Mary, the mother of Jesus may have faced in her obedience to God’s call. That obedience in the face of uncertainty and surely fears is a telling example for us all.
I wish all of you a happy Christmas, and pray that what ever the future holds for us, that we might cling to the Emmanuel – God with us.
Douglas Ambrose had been gatekeeper at the estate for nearly a decade. In all that time, he had not once been summoned to the Great House. Today, however, the call had come. It’s purpose was mystifying, both literally and figuratively as he trudged through a thick mist that obscured the residence from view.
As he walked, worries and self doubts began to fill his head. Had the Squire heard of his dice playing at the tavern, or of the dispute with the green grocer where he overturned the apple cart on his exit from the merchant’s shop.
As the shadowy form of the Great House began to emerge from the cold December mist, Douglas set his path to the servants’ entrance. On arrival he was met by Will Youngblood, one of the footmen who informed him that the Squire expected him at the stable block.
Ambrose thanked him, and headed across the gravelled court to the block, where Hilton, the butler, nodded to an open stall door.
On entering, Douglas was faced by the Squire and his eldest son, Richard. Quickly doffing his cap, he mumbled “Good morning, Sirs.”
“Good morning, Ambrose. How are things at the Gatehouse?” the Squire enquired.
“Well Sir, Thank you, Sir.”
“Good – good. Now I have heard some disturbing news Ambrose,” the Squire began.
Oh my Lord, please no, Ambrose thought beginning to sweat at the brow.
“It has come to my attention that your son, Arnie is it? Has joined the Yeomanry as a trooper.”
“Yes, yes Sir. That is so.” Ambrose stumbled.
“It seems that he is taking that nine year old Mare of yours to serve the Crown with.”
“Yes, that’s the truth as well.” Ambrose stuttered.
“That will never do, Man. Here take this gelding. It’s strong, and should well serve the reputation of this house.”
“Yes – yes, take. It’s a gift. And Ambrose, Happy Christmas.”
It has been some time since I last posted a recipe. Sadly it has been very much same old – same old for me during the lockdowns. Today, however, I decided to literally spice things up a bit by making some homemade spicy hummus. This is an easy (or even cheaters) recipe as I have not gone through the whole process of soaking and preparing my own beans. That said I think this is far nicer than most store bought varieties and a lot less expensive.
Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans) – 400 g can in water
Haricot Beans (Navy Beans or similar) – 400 g can in water
Garlic – 1 large clove
Lemon Juice – 1 Tbs
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1 Tbs
Curry Paste – 1 Tbs (I use Tikka)
Cajun Spice – 1 tsp
Water – < 1 Tbs (as needed)
Peel the garlic and blitz in a food processor. Then add the curry paste, lemon juice, and spice. Drain the tins of beans/peas and add to the processor and blitz on high for one minute. With a spoon stir the mixture to allow any chucks to be moved to the blades, and blitz again for half a minute. You can if needed add splashes of water to reach your desired consistency (I prefer mine on the thick side). Spoon into a storage bowl and chill. That’s all there is to it.
“Okay, if we use our heads and if we are lucky, we should be able to enter the castle and confront the baron,” Harold told his band of followers as they canned the castle defences.
“Um – exactly how are the nine of us going to pull this off?” Owen asked.
“Like I said, with a little cunning we can distract the guards and get through the gate while they are dealing with our feint.”
“So what do we do?” Lars asked.
“Well Lars, you and William will roll the haycart to the front gate and then just out of reach of the guards set it alight and run. While the guards are dealing with the fire, the rest of us will rush in,” Harold explained.
“And what if they don’t rush to put out the fire?” an unfamiliar voice queried. “I hear those guards are really good at sticking to thier posts.”
“Those pampered buffoons,” Harold retorted. “They will run about like headless chickens.”
“Do you know Harold Greengrass, I think this is your lucky day after all,” The Captain of the Guard said as twenty guards closed in from behind the band. “I’d wager you will be inside and facing the baron sooner than you thought.”