Good News, Great Joy, All People

Firstly… Happy Christmas!  Today is Christmas Day… and I hope that where ever you are that you know that you are loved and that today what we celebrate is for you… it’s Good News, Great Joy and it’s for All People!

It has been a number of years since I have written a blog about Christmas… in fact, if my quick dig through the blog is correct, I have only written about it once on this blog… I did a whole series way back in 2011… but since, there has only been a few references to Christmas time and the occasional picture, but this week as we have been traveling through New Zealand, I have been thinking a lot about Christmas and all that we do to celebrate.  

Before leaving Melbourne Christmas was obvious and everywhere, there were songs, and gifts, food, lights and events and it all seemed to be everywhere all the time… It was quite overwhelming to be honest.  Since arriving in New Zealand I have discovered that over here, this appears to not be the case.  Christmas is much less obvious… perhaps this is because we have been doing touristy things and driving and not really frequenting shopping centres, but it seems to be much less constant here… and not just in one part… everywhere… Sure there are TV ads about Christmas and sales and the occasional Santa… but there is much less caroling, less lights, and generally less Christmas.  And while at first I found this wonderful and much less stressful, as Christmas Day has come closer and closer I have found myself longing for it… for the tinsel and lights, for the carols and community events, for a church to have something on for us to go to… 

Perhaps in New Zealand Christmas is just much more relaxed and they actually have it right, much less about the show and much more about the important stuff, taking a minute to stop and spend time with family? Or maybe being the end of December we’ve just missed it? I am not really sure… but I have found myself longing for the strangest things… homesick in a weird way for my ‘normal’ Christmas… which, in reality, is just as hectic and overwhelming as the weeks I described before we left.  

I have been trying to work out what exactly I am missing… and to be honest, I think it’s a few things… the familiarity of my Christmas Tree and decorations… the twinkle of the lights… and the communal carol singing… because Christmas is a story of good news and great joy… and the songs that we sing declare this over and over again, in beautiful harmonies with the occasional outrageous descant.  

A number of years ago our church’s Christmas series was on the theme ‘Good News, Great Joy, All People’ and it’s a phrase that has been stuck in my head ever since… but I think is mostly because it is true… and it’s adaptable to lots of mundane tasks you might like to declare at home.. for example… Good News, Great Joy, All People… Dinner is ready… or Good News, Great Joy, All People… I’ve finished the washing… see works for everything.  Anyway, at Christmas there is an opportunity to have shared joy with all people over the gift of Christ, the hope of the world, the comfort in his birth and the miracle it was (in fact the older I get and the further into Motherhood I journey, the more of a miracle I think it is).  

This year more than any other I have felt the weight of the world as it groans under poor human stewardship and been prompted over and over and over again to care for the land I live in and the people I live among… That in this difficult world full of pain, suffering, and problems that so often seem too big and difficult to comprehend… Where people seem to shun and judge first and listen second… Where my homeland burns and the land I am in has more rain and cold weather than a summer should or would normally contain… I know of a hope and light and joy that is for all people without a catch… and I have missed declaring this for weeks on end.  I suppose the challenge for me has been how do I celebrate and bring this hope to others without my pre-provided platform… or prompts?  And once again I think I have found my answer within the lyrics of a Christmas Carol… one I have blogged about before here way back in 2011… O Holy Night, but this time it has been the third verse that has caught me each time… it says…   

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is Peace
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother
And in His name, all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us Praise His Holy name
Christ is the Lord; O praise His name forever!
His power and glory evermore proclaim
His power and glory evermore proclaim

So that’s what I will try to do today (and every day) to share this light… When Isaac wakes up to his makeshift paper Christmas tree, when we sing with Dave’s Grandparents’ at church, when we break bread with our family on a rare Christmas where we only have one destination to be… I will love, I will be a bringer of peace, and with my actions, I will be a bringer of Good News, Great Joy for all people.  

Tea Time with Em – Dec 24

Well here we are everyone… Day 24… the last day of the Advent Calendar… it’s Christmas Eve… and I am almost out of tea… If you are have endured this review process and are still reading these blogs… congratulations… I will try to make the blog a little more exciting after Christmas… there will be no more tea reviewing for the foreseeable future… I also promise not to do this again… because it turns out that while I have enjoyed the novelty of the tea Advent Calendar when it comes to the teas I like I am actually pretty boring… I just like black tea… nothing fancy… just black tea.

Through this process though I have tried new things, I have confirmed that I am not a fruit tea person and found a couple of teas that I could be tempted by again… and that some of these new teas I can have without my usual one sugar, so that’s a plus… but mostly I have just confirmed that I am most likely to stick to the plain stuff… Thanks for sticking around… I hope it wasn’t too tedious.

Tomorrow for Christmas day my gift to you will be no more tea reviews and my gift to myself will be a regular ceylon tea…

Day 24:

Tea: Christmas Breakfast 
Initial Reaction: I thought you might be hiding here Christmas breakfast… and what a good idea to pop you last…    
Brew Time: 4 mins 
Enjoyed with: a dash of milk
Flavour: Good… There is a lot going on in this tea… and I was hoping for a relaxing finish to a hectic season… but the tea is also hectic… it tastes like Christmas spice… and look it’s probably me not the teas… but I do enjoy a less is more with spice… but it was a fun way to finish… 
Score: 6/10

Bonus review from Dave: Not as festive as I hoped… I was looking for some real excitement… 7/10

Tea Time with Em – Dec 23

Day 23:

Tea: Pumping Pomegranate 
Initial Reaction: Wow… where do they come up with these names?   
Brew Time: 4 mins 
Enjoyed with: boiling water 
Flavour: Good… again, not as sweet as I thought it would be which is a nice surprise… it’s tangy though
Score: 6/10

Tea Time with Em – Dec 22

Day 22:

Tea: Melbourne Breakfast 
Initial Reaction: Hello my old friend!    
Brew Time: 4 mins 
Enjoyed with: Milk
Flavour: I am a fan of Melbourne breakfast… which is good because I am also a fan of Melbourne, Breakfast, and breakfasts in Melbourne, it’s sweet and smooth and just delish
Score: 9/10

Tea Time with Em – Dec 21

Day 21:

Tea: Eggnog
Initial Reaction: In tea? Wonderful… and I love the pink… well done T2… I know it doesn’t look pink in the picture… but just trust me on this one.
Brew Time: 3 mins 
Enjoyed with: Milk
Flavour: I am yet to have any actual egg nog this season… so I’m not sure if this is what it’s supposed to taste like… but there is a LOT of vanilla… but it does taste festive 
Score: 6/10

Bonus review from Dave: much like the real thing if you drink too much of it you’re going to be sick… 2 cup maximum… 5/10

Tea Time with Em – Dec 20

Day 20:

Tea: Sleep Tight
Initial Reaction: Well this is awkward… where having this first thing in the morning because that’s the only time we have today   
Brew Time: 4 mins 
Enjoyed with: Nothing, just good water
Flavour: It’s good… I would enjoy this at the correct time of day
Score: 7/10

Bonus review from Dave: Relaxing… 7/10

Tea Time with Em – Dec 19

Day 19:

Tea: Go Go Goa
Initial Reaction: What the heck does that mean? What kinda tea even is this? 
Brew Time: 3 mins 
Enjoyed with: Milk and honey…
Flavour: Rooky error… I should have tasted this before I added the honey… all I can taste is honey… but if this was honey tea it hit the mark… 
Score: 5/10

Bonus review from Dave:  All I can taste is honey… what’s it supposed to be *emma reads description* oh it tastes like a weak Carmel latte… 6/10