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Category Archives: Christmas

The little blue-grey bag

The little blue-grey bag

This is a story about the Annunciation which I wrote for a service on Christmas Eve.


Rosie lived with her grandfather in a little cottage by the river.  The cottage had once been painted white but time had exposed the outlines of the bricks,  reminding Rosie of a riverbed at the end of a long, dry summer.

They didn’t have very much, and what her grandfather did have he shared with Rosie unreservedly, often going hungry himself so that she would have enough.

During one particularly hard winter, Rosie noticed that her grandfather’s plate was often empty and, knowing that there wasn’t enough food to go round she decided that she needed to do something about the situation.

So Rosie set off in search of food.  She put on her muddy green wellies and her big brown jacket and crept over the fence into the nearby woods but it was dark and damp and the squirrels had long ago taken all the half-decent nuts.

So she went down to the river instead, hoping to catch a fish or two with her little yellow fishing net but the water was icy cold and the fish were wily and slippery and she came away with nothing but a dull ache in her fingers and in her heart.

She was on the verge of giving up when she decided to go and have one last look in her grandfather’s allotment plot which sat just up the road from the cottage.  Maybe there would be something there that he’d missed, something to keep them going through the last days of winter.

It didn’t look promising.  The ground was all neatly turned over, and what plants she could see certainly didn’t seem edible.

But then, in the corner of the allotment, she spotted a little blue-gray bag, tucked away under an old yellowing sheepskin fleece.  She looked in the bag and saw that it contained a single golden-brown potato.

Rosie rushed back into the house to find her grandfather and she told him what she’d found.  “Shall I bring it in and you can have it for your tea?” She asked him.

“Oh you mustn’t” he replied, “that potato will feed us for the whole of next winter”

“One potato will feed us for a whole winter?” she said, incredulously.  “Yes,” her grandfather replied, “sometimes the smallest things are filled with the most potential”

That spring, when the days started to lengthen and the frost no longer clung so tightly to the ground, Rosie’s grandfather took her out into the allotment and showed her how to quarter the potato, making sure each chunk had an eye, and plant it deep into the soil.

As Spring turned to Summer Rosie watched the shoots appear and the plants begin to spread their leaves.

When the Autumn came, Rosie and her grandfather went out to the allotment with a fork and a fraying wicker basket and she watched in amazement as her Grandfather turned over the soil to reveal hundreds of golden-brown potatoes.

Rosie tried to count them all but she didn’t know enough numbers so instead she helped her grandfather gently wipe them clean and put them in the basket to take back into the house.

Before they returned home, however, Rosie watched her Grandfather choose one of the potatoes, put it in the little blue-grey bag, and tuck it under the old sheepskin in the corner of the allotment.

As they walked back along the road, Rosie asked him why he used a blue bag to store the special potato.

“Do you know the story of Mary?” he asked her

“I know about the donkey and the manger and the shepherds and the kings with their presents” she replied, closing the cottage door quietly behind her.

“Well”, he said, as the fire crackled into life, “before all of that Mary was just a young girl – not very much older than you.  But God chose her to look after something very small, and very precious.”

“Was that the baby Jesus?” she asked

“Yes, she had to look after him – even though she was only young herself, because that tiny baby growing inside her would one day give life to the whole world”

“Sometimes the smallest things are filled with the most potential”, Rosie murmured, remembering what her grandfather had said back in the allotment all those months ago.

“In pictures”, he went on, “Mary is always painted wearing blue, so that’s why I decided to keep my special seed potato in a blue bag – so that it would be protected, kept safe, just like Mary protected Jesus.

“And when the time is right, when the earth is ready, when the task is done, that precious little gift can go on to give life, and hope, and strength.”

Rosie watched her Grandfather settle back in his chair, and she wondered whether he was talking about Jesus, or the potato, but she decided it was just as true either way.  As her eyelids grew heavier the flames flickered up from the deep red embers of the fire, making the shadows dance around the room like a heavenly host watching over them as they slept.

Rich Clarkson, Christmas 2017


Crib Service poem

For this evening’s Crib Services (1,000 people across 2 services) I wrote a poem with responses for everyone to join in with.  I looked up rhymes for “amazing” and 4 of the suggestions were “grazing”, “stargazing”, “praising” and “self-raising”, after that the poem pretty much wrote itself!


Mary – “Mamma-mia!” (Women)

Joseph – “Knock knock” (Men)

Jesus/baby – “shh…” (Children)

Angel – “hallelujah!” (balcony + choir)

Shepherds – “come-bye” (Left hand side)

Wise men – “wow!” (right hand side)

I want You – “who, me?” (Everyone)


Part 1. Journey to Bethlehem

A long time ago an ordinary girl called Mary (Mamma Mia!) was asleep

when God sent an angel (hallelujah) to wake her with a message that nearly made her weep:

He said I want you (who, me?)

Yes you to follow me

I’m going to do something amazing

I want you (who, me?)

Yes you for you see

that bun in your oven is self-raising!

Mary (Mamma Mia) woke Joseph (knock knock) who’d heard the same thing so, with a yawn,

They headed to Bethlehem where, in a crowded room, Jesus (shhh…) “God with us” was born.


Part 2. Shepherds and angels

Later that night some shepherds (come bye) were out on the hills with their sheep

when God sent some angels (hallelujah!) with a message that woke them right up from their sleep:

They said I want you (who, me?)

Yes you to follow me

In Bethlehem there’s something amazing

I want you (who, me?)

Yes you, come and see:

God is with us! leave your sheep to their grazing.

So the Shepherds (come bye) went down into town and found Mary (Mamma Mia) and Joe (knock knock)

Then when they saw the Lord Jesus (shh…) fast asleep they praised God before heading back home.


Part 3. Wise Men
A long way away some wise men (wow!) watched the skies in a far off land

So God sent a comet to blaze night and day. A message that they could understand:

It said I want you (who, me?)

Yes you to follow me

over there there’s something amazing

I want you (who, me?)

Yes you, and you’ll see

the king prophesied by your stargazing

So the wise men (wow!) packed and got on their way, and found the baby (shh…) who was also a kkin

Gave Mary (Mamma Mia) and Joseph (knock knock) the gifts they’d remembered to bring!


Part 4. Talk

In this church, in this town, on this Christmas Eve God is speaking to his people again

through Mary (Mamma Mia) and Joseph (knock knock) and Jesus (shh…) and Shepherds (come bye) and Wise men (wow!)

God says I want you (who, me?)

Yes you to follow me

This Christmas do something amazing

I want you (who, me?)

Yes you come and be

like the angels (hallelujah!) with your whole life God praising.

So in this season of peace and goodwill there’s a choice that each one of us here ought to ponder

God is not just for Christmas, he’s for our whole lives. God is with us, are you with him, I wonder?

Megan’s story

Here is something I produced for our Christingle service this year – based on this from the Children’s Society: Megan’s Story (PDF)

Thanks to Lynn, Charlotte and the children from the junior school for their voices!

Merry Christmas!

christmas card

Apologies for the lack of posting recently, having a baby and moving house rather put an end to that for a while!  Hopefully normal (or at least occasional) service will be resumed in the new year.



Christingle song

Not being a fan of some of the Christingle songs that are available I decided to write my own this year!

To the tune of ‘While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks By Night’
While shepherds watch and angels sing
And wise men journey on
Each part of our Christingle tells
A tale of what God’s done
He made the world and it was good
He crafted it with care
This orange globe reminds us of
The world that we all share
And wrapped around the world he made
This ribbon is a sign
That God’s great love for all of us
Surrounds us all the time
From north, south, east and west
In summer, winter, autumn, spring
These sweets remind us that God fills
The world with all good things
And into this world that he made
Our God himself was born
To be a light to all the world
On that first Christmas morn

Advent Candle poem 5 – Christmas day!

Through Advent I will be performing a series of poems at Church as we light the candles on our advent crown.

Here are the lyrics for the final one on Christmas day:

~ ~ ~

Sometimes it felt like this day would never come

Like the waiting would be too much to bear

As we counted the hours, the days, the weeks

And whispered our hopeful prayers


As these candle flames burst into life one by one

They served to constantly remind us

In the midst of our waiting God’s promise holds true

For he promised to come down and find us


Now the day has arrived we remember again

How he came without fanfare or distinction

In the midst of our dark, dirty world came a child

To bring light to the whole of creation


So today, as we celebrate the source of all joy

We must start to look forward again

For Christ who came to us is coming once more

To restore all creation to His rule and reign



Christmas day prayers

Here is the idea I used for the prayers in our Christmas day service this year.


* setup: give everyone a small square of wrapping paper as they come in to Church.

1) look at the patterned side of the paper, think of the excitement of recieving presents.  Christmas is a time of great excitement and joy.

Thank God for the good gifts he gives us.

2) Now look at the blank side, this is not so exciting.  Some people will not enjoy this Christmas, maybe they’ve lost a loved one, had a bad year or are unwell.

Pray for people who will not enjoy this Christmas

3) Now screw the paper into a ball as we pray for the world.  People are celebrating Christmas around the world, some, like us, with abundance, some with very little.

Pray for Christians around the world as they celebrate the birth of Jesus.