Issue 18-and-25-12-2020

Featured story

Thought for the week: Christmas belongs to us all, says Bernard Coote

FREE 17 Dec 2020 | by Bernard Coote

Cancel Christmas? Alarm and fear were in those words, which made headlines earlier in the pandemic. It was unthinkable.  Christmas is so deep in our history and customs, religious or otherwise. Friends have long had questions and insights about its observance. They deserve a sharing together.

Read more

Top stories

Can Friends fully embrace the holiday season? A ‘Quakerly Christian’ perspective by Geoff Pilliner

17 Dec 2020 | by Geoff Pilliner

‘That child, born in such ignominious circumstances, would become the man who was closer to the Spirit than anyone in history.’ | Photo: from Pxhere.

As a well-seasoned Quaker, I find Christmas presents problems. Not Scrooge-like problems but spiritual challenges. Early Quakers did not believe in holy days and feast days, believing that every day is sacred, and kept their shops open on Christmas Day against all the rules and customs of the time, but...

Read more

Born to be wild? Tim Gee finds another way to tell the oversweet story of Christmas

17 Dec 2020 | by Tim Gee

'But still today too, God is born, and lives on, in the struggles of the oppressed as they struggle to win peace and the Kingdom of Heaven.'

At this time of year, the Christmas story is hard to escape. In advent calendars, cards, school plays and nativity sets, the story of Jesus’ birth is everywhere. One Quaker response is to ignore all this – after all Christ is born in our hearts every day. But I take a...

Read more

The coming of the Light: A ‘protean’ understanding by Derrick Whitehouse

17 Dec 2020 | by Derrick Whitehouse

‘We are so fortunate that our predecessors worked on and developed the concept of Light, and made it the foundation of our Society.’ | Photo: by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash.

Walk in the Light, wherever you may be! Walk in the Light, wherever you may be! In my old leather breeches and my shaggy, shaggy locks, I am walking in the glory of the Light, said Fox. This joyful and well-known chorus is the song by Sydney Carter, which conveys...

Read more

There’s something about Mary, says Marisa Johnson

17 Dec 2020 | by Marisa Johnson

'I like this Miriam, an ordinary, believable young woman, part of a community focussed on the business of survival.' | Photo: by Mariusz Matuszewski from Pixabay.

For the current issue of the Friends Quarterly I wrote some reflections on Mary, the mother of Jesus. I explored my personal connection to her, and how her story has resonated strongly in my life. But here I want to focus on Mary herself, and what the mythology that surrounds...

Read more

Poetry for Christmas

17 Dec 2020 | by Rainbows Children’s Meeting and RV Bailey

Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash.

‘Asylum seekers’ Poem by Rainbows Children’s Meeting Mother and child are fleeing in the night.    The brutal soldiers search for them behind,        And in the sky ahead, the stars are bright.        The tired donkey follows Joseph’s light,  ...

Read more

All articles

Quaker centenarian raises £40,000

FREE 17 Dec 2020 | by Rebecca Hardy

Newbury Quaker centenarian Ruth Saunders, inspired by Tom Moore who famously raised £32 million for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his patio in the days leading up to his 100th birthday, has gone one further by completing the final lap of her marathon. She walked the final two laps at...

Read more

‘Chilling’ effect on campaign groups

FREE 17 Dec 2020 | by Rebecca Hardy

The UK government is making it harder for campaigning voices to be heard, staff from Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) have said. Writing on the Quakers in Britain website, Grace Da Costa, public affairs and advocacy manager for BYM, sets out the impact of what the blog describes as the ‘chilling...

Read more

Friends call for more black history lessons

17 Dec 2020 | by Rebecca Hardy

A Scottish Friend involved in one of the four South-East Scotland Area Meeting study groups set up to explore racism has said that there should be more taught about British black history on the UK school curriculum.

Read more

‘Tough time’ for prisons

17 Dec 2020 | by Rebecca Hardy

The challenges facing prison staff and chaplains throughout the pandemic was explored in an online Quaker workshop this autumn.

Read more

Friends explore slavery and the City

17 Dec 2020 | by Rebecca Hardy

Friends in London took part in a walk around the capital last month aimed at deepening their understanding of the capital’s links to slavery. A small group of Quakers joined the Slavery and the City walk; they were brought together by London Quakers and led by the group Six...

Read more

It might be a bluer Christmas than usual, but Elaine Bright still has a holiday cheer

17 Dec 2020 | by Elaine Bright

Christmas time is coming, the geese are getting fat – and they are not alone. I am finding even my ‘work from home’ casuals are snug. I can’t put a penny in the old man’s hat since I haven’t seen the Euston Road for six months. A summer...

Read more

Joseph: Harvey Gillman’s original father Christmas

17 Dec 2020 | by Harvey Gillman

‘I sit here in amazement of what they will say of me. None of them knew me, except that I was his father. What they mean by father I do not understand. They will write that Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, that she bore a child, that an...

Read more

Shepherds’ delight: Rosie Carnall makes a link with the Book of Discipline Revision Committee

17 Dec 2020 | by Rosie Carnall

Once, when I was an Area Meeting clerk and tired after a Meeting, I put the television on and spent a happy decompression hour watching One Man and His Dog. Green fields, distant humans, and clever dogs herding sheep – it was very soothing. I’ve felt connection with sheepdogs before;...

Read more

The magi were outside Jesus’ religious tradition. James Newman-Shah offers reflections from Islam

17 Dec 2020 | by James Newman-Shah

‘Bismillah ar-Rahman, ar-Rameen. In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful.’ This is the line that opens the Quran and is said by me and my fellow Muslims multiple times daily. Every Surah recited starts with a reflection on God’s compassion and mercy. It has been said that...

Read more

King-sized failings: Mark Russ considers Herod

17 Dec 2020 | by Mark Russ

Christmas isn’t good news for everyone. For the Herods of the world, it’s very bad news. We meet Herod in the second chapter of Matthew’s gospel. Here, Jesus is presented as a second Moses. This makes Herod another Pharaoh. He represents tyrants and oppressive political powers. Just...

Read more

Making room: Nim Njuguna’s alternative history of the innkeeper

17 Dec 2020 | by Nim Njuguna

‘I am no longer talking to journalists,’ said Moshe the innkeeper dismissively waving away the inquiring stranger. ‘Not after that sly reporter ended up maligning my name. He probably trashed my reputation and that of My Brother’s Keeper’s inn for life.’

Read more

Prophet driven: Rhiannon Grant on Anna

17 Dec 2020 | by Rhiannon Grant

After the main nativity story, Luke’s gospel gives a little coda to the events. Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to do their religious duty. There, they meet two slightly odd characters: Simeon, a man who has been led to wait for Jesus (rather like...

Read more

What can a baby say about power? Howard Grace has an example

17 Dec 2020 | by Howard Grace

My wife Maria is Dutch. She was born during the second world war. German soldiers told her parents that their house would be used to base occupying forces. They had no option but to leave – they were powerless.

Read more

Taking care: Lessons from His Dark Materials by Lois Gallagher

17 Dec 2020 | by Lois Gallagher

As Christmas approaches amid a long Covid-19 winter, some of us are looking forward to the culmination of the BBC’s second series of His Dark Materials. Watching this adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novels, I was interested in the storyline of Will, a young carer, because I work with...

Read more

Letters - 18 & 25 December 2020

17 Dec 2020 | by The Friend

Wracked with guilt I finished Meeting for Sufferings on Zoom on Saturday 5 December wracked with guilt. When listening to the moving presentation by Britain Yearly Meeting’s Edwina Peart on Friends and racism and the subsequent discussion, I realised that we Friends could and should have made much more of...

Read more