Thursday, 29 December 2011


A new doctor had arrived in town. He could cure anything and anybody. Everyone was amazed with what he could do - everyone except for Mr. Thompson, the town sceptic.
Grumpy old Mr. Thompson went to visit this 'miracle doctor' to prove that he wasn't anybody special. When it was time for his appointment he told the doctor, "Hey, doc, I've lost my sense of taste. I can't taste nothin', so what are ya goin' to do?"
The doctor scratched his head and mumbled to himself a little, then told Mr. Thompson, "What you need is jar number 47."
So the doctor brought the jar out, opened it, and told Mr. Thompson to taste it. He tasted it and immediately spit it out, "This is gross!" he yelled. "Looks like I just restored your sense of taste Mr. Thompson," said the doctor. So Mr. Thompson went home.... very mad.
One month later, Mr. Thompson decides to go back to the doctor and try once again to expose him as a fake, by complaining of a new problem. "Doc," he started, "I can't remember anything!" Thinking he had the doctor stumped now, he waited as the doctor scratched his head, mumbled to himself a little, and told Mr. Thompson, "What you need is jar number 47, it's......"
But before the doctor could finish his sentence, Mr. Thompson was cured and fled the room!


The Queen during her

visit to Cork's 'English Market'

During her visit to this country earlier this year Queen Elisabeth ll won the hearts of many by her gracious and good humoured disposition as she visited landmark sites on the island. Perhaps most moving was her time at the Garden of Remembrance where those who died in the struggle against British occupation are honoured. Also her interaction with the crowds who turned out after her visit to Cork’s English Market was remarkably warm and spontaneous. The visit definitely advanced neighbourly relations between our two countries and changed many ‘Republicans’ views of the British Monarchy. The Queen is the head of the Anglican Church and is reported to have a strong Christian faith herself and is a daily Bible reader. In this years Christmas message she speaks explicitly of the Saviour and the necessity of an individual relationship with Him, as you will see from the excerpt below… ~GOSh.~


For many, this Christmas will not be easy. With our armed forces deployed around the world, thousands of service families face Christmas without their loved ones at home.
The bereaved and the lonely will find it especially hard. And, as we all know, the world is going through difficult times. All this will affect our celebration of this great Christian festival.
Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: 'Fear not', they urged, 'we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
'For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.'
Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves - from our recklessness or our greed.
God sent into the world a unique person - neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.
Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God's love.
In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there's a prayer:
O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray.
Cast out our sin
And enter in.
Be born in us today.
It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas."

Sunday, 25 December 2011



Immanuel -God with us ! May I wish

all loyal supporters of this blog
a Happy Christmas

and Peaceful New Year

Gerard O'Shea

Saturday, 24 December 2011



So how’d it happen? Baby Jesus. The Liberator? You ready for this?
I’ll tell you: his mum, Mary, is engaged to Joe. They’d not had sex yet, but – weird! She’s pregnant! Courtesy of the Holy Spirit.
Focus on Joe. A good guy, trying to do the right thing and he’s desperate to keep this news quiet. The locals would come down so hard on her. He’s working out how best to deliver the “sorry, but it’s off” speech – without the gossip grapevine crashing from overload.
He’s smashing the billiard balls of his best options around his brain, well into the early hours. Finally he drops off and God downloads a dream: An angel saying:
“Joe Davidson, don’t you chicken out of making Mary your wife. I’ll tell you why. ‘Cause it’s the Holy Spirit’s baby. She’ll have a boy, and you’ll put the name Jesus down on the birth certificate. Why “Jesus”? ‘Cause it means Liberator and that’s what he’s going to do for all his people…. liberate them from all the mess they’ve gotten themselves into.”
Joe wakes up and, yes, realizes it was all a dream. But he follows his Angel Orders to the letter and the wedding’s back on as soon as the baby’s born. Joe makes sure the birth certificate reads, “First name: Jesus.”

Meanwhile, in the depths of the Roman Empire, he-who-must-be-obeyed, Augustus Caesar, announces the Big Count. Caesar, the Big Cheeser, wants accurate population stats across the empire. Everyone is expected to trek back to their hometown for the registration.
So Joe Davidson sets off on the 130 km trip down the map, crosses the border and arrives in Bethlehem, Davidstown, in the south. He takes his fiancee Mary, who’s pregnant and showing. Three, four, maybe five days later they arrive and realize someone else is about to cross a border and arrive in Bethlehem.
Crisis! Her waters break! “No vacancy” signs in every B&B window. Decision. Mary has a ‘home birth’ in a livestock shed. She wraps strips of cloth round the baby and uses an animal feeding trough as a cot.

Noisy night, chaotic night

All is alarm, all is fright

Rounded virgin, now mother to child

Wholly infant, so other, so wild

Awake at an unearthly hour

Awake at an unearthly hour

Pull back to the fields outside the overpacked town, focus in on a local Sheep Security Team sitting through their night shift.
One of God’s angels turns up, with brilliant supernatural special FX packing the fields with God’s radiance. The guys are scared stupid.
The angel delivers his standard, “Don’t panic” line then hits them with, “I’ve got great news, great news to bring a smile to every shape of face on the planet. Mark the date in your diaries. Today over in Davidstown there’s a new baby born. Not just any baby – The Baby! The Boss, Liberator God himself, turning up for you in baby shape. You’ll know which baby – he’ll be wrapped up snug and lying in a feeding trough that’s caked with old animal grub.”
Cued to make their entrance on the last line of the breaking news, the whole angel choir turn up and blast out the song:
“Celebrate! Elevate! And on planet Earth, serenity. In your earthly home, shalom for all who have known God’s smile.”
Once the angel choir scoots back up the Heavenly HQ, the Sheep Security Team come out with, “Let’s check it out”. “Yeah, let’s hit the town.” “Search the whole of Bethlehem for this baby.” “God’s put us in the picture – let’s go!”
They leg it and, sure enough, they track down Mary and Joe, then find the baby in his makeshift cot. The next days they fill the pubs with echoes of what they’d been told about this baby. The public pulse is breakneck pace as “Liberator Talk” bounces round the walls of the town. The reactions range from amazed to – well, amazed.
The Sheep Security Team go back to work, talking up God for letting them in on the whole adventure.
And Mary’s reaction? She’s quietly storing away all of this in a safe place in her heart, bringing memories out when ever she has some space to wonder.

This is a paraphrase of the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible. Rob Lacey used ‘street language’ to make the old old story relevant for a new generation.

Monday, 19 December 2011


Patrick Kavanaghs powerful evocation
of his childhood memory
of Christmas in Monaghan.

Saturday, 17 December 2011



I saw a stable, low and very bare,

A little child in a manger.

The oxen knew him, had Him in their care,

To men He was a stranger.

The safety of the world was lying there,

And the world's danger.

Mary Coleridge

(* safety of the world)




The Amish, justly famous for their hearty home cooking, give us their recipe for a happy marriage.

If yours isn't so great, perhaps there's an ingredient missing!

3 cups love

2 cups warmth

1 cup forgiveness

1 cup friends

4 tablespoons hope

2 tablespoons forgiveness

An equal measure of faith

Generous amount of humor with laughter to taste

Mix together warmth and love.

Thoroughly blend in tenderness.

Stir in the friends, add the hope & mix in the forgiveness.

Sprinkle with laughter and cook in faith.

Serve daily in generous helpings.

(taken from

Saturday, 10 December 2011


"The atheist
can't find God
for the same reason
that a thief
can't find a policeman."





It’s my first Christmas away from home. Our college youth choir is on tour and we’re making our way from southern California, across the barren landscape of the Texas panhandle, to Oklahoma. It’s bitter cold, our van is smothered with ice, I can’t see out the window, and we’ve been on the road for more than twenty-four hours.
We make it to First Church in time to set up for their Christmas Eve service. Our program is John Fisher’s musical, The New Covenant. In between songs I narrate the message from Jeremiah of a new and better way:
“The time is coming,” declares the Lord,“when I will make a new covenant…It will not be like the covenant made with their forefathers…I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.I will be their God,and they will be my people.For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Our program is over. The congregation surrounds us with love and good food. They’re touched and moved: The baby Jesus, full of grace and truth, God-with-us, in our hearts, in our minds. No more rules. We can start anew.
It’s getting deathly late, so we bed down in the church’s Fellowship Hall. The room is piled with bodies, strewn all over the floor under sleeping bags. I’m too exhausted to care.

Christmas morning. All is quiet, but all is bleak. Through the windows, which reach from ceiling to floor at the other end of the room, there is nothing but grey, icy dirt. Sparse blades of grass whimper in the wind. Nothing looks or feels familiar—nothing like the Christmas I know.
We pack up, wind our way back through Texas, to another church. It’s another evening concert. It’s Christmas night. Our program proceeds as before. From the Gospel of John I announce, “The law was given through Moses; but grace and truth through Jesus.” I go on to quote from the apostle Paul:
Therefore, we are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face… No, Christ has taken it away. For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into this likeness…For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts.
In the Christ child is life, and that life is the light of the world. In us too is life and light. It shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not and cannot overcome it. We are witnesses. It shines.
It’s approaching midnight. This time families invite us home and give us a bed. Before I turn in, my host thanks me. His wife left him several years back. “Thank you for reminding me of how the light can still shine.”

Morning comes early, much too early. We have to pack up and head off to Albuquerque. I’m not too sure I have the energy to keep doing this, but I’m eager to sing and tell about the new and better way.
This time the congregation is packed with elderly folk. “Merry Christmas! God is with us – Immanuel is born.” Our program commences. Near the end, I quote from Paul again:
We have seen his glory and do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all… Glory to God in the highest!
A bent-over gentleman, with cardigan and cane, comes up to me afterwards. He is teary-eyed. He embraces me, and then gingerly walks away. His wife had just died of cancer.
Several days and several more churches later I’m back in school. A letter is in my mailbox from Mom. “So how was your Christmas?” I tell her all about the tour, where we went and what we tried to bring to those we met.
Another letter from Mom. She worries I didn’t have a good Christmas: No tree, no gifts, no Santa, no caroling or parties. I don’t know what to say. Then I recall the shepherds in the Christmas story, and how they hurried off to spread the news about the babe lying in the manger. “All who heard them were amazed at what they said to them.”
“Mom,” I write back. “I did have a good Christmas… I was doing shepherd’s work.”
Christ is born! There is a new and better way. The light shines in the darkness. Our sins are forgiven, remembered no more. Spread the news. It’s the season for shepherd’s work. Hallelujah!

Charles Moore

(taken from 'The Plough' magazine)