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Polmont Old Advent Logo © Iain Morrison

Welcome to Day 16 of our 2010 Advent Calendar - We hope you enjoy exploring the themes of Advent - guiding us each day towards Christmas and the excitement that it brings. I hope you enjoy the Calendar - there are some new things and some older items from previous years - I hope you enjoy Advent and Christmas

Here is our Christmas Countdown Clock!

 P is for Peace -  Image and © Iain Morrison

P is for Peace on Earth and good will to all men and women.

P is for Poinsettia which is the traditional Christmas plant.

Our Advent Readings for the 16th Day
Fiery mountains and a Cross - Image and © unknown Luke Ch1 V39 to 55: At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me —
holy is his name.
Fiery mountains and a Cross - Image and © unknownHis mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

This passage is one of the most famous and radical in the whole of the Bible, it is called the Magnificat or Mary's Song. She is so delighted that her cousin is expecting a child and she realises, perhaps for the first time, that she is blessed - that God has blessed this humble and faithful woman to carry the Holy Child. Indeed every generation will realise that she is blessed. She continues to sing God's praise - she reflects on the Old Testament Prophesies and exalts God for all that he has done for the world and its people. It is radical - even today - in its language and ideas, in that she talks about God bringing down rulers, promoting the humble, satisfying the hungry while sending the rich away empty - very radical even for today. That is quite a journey she has taken in her body and mind. She begins to see the larger and longer term picture. Perhaps in our Advent Journey this year we need to look at the bigger picture, rather than the glitter and tinsel, of Christmas.

Something to think about and do today:

Fiery mountains and a Cross - Image and © unknownP is for Peace on Earth and good will to all men and women.

The Declaration of Christmas Peace in Finland

Declaration of Christmas Peace has been a tradition in Finland from the Middle Ages every year, except in 1939 due to the Winter War. The declaration takes place on the Old Great Square of Turku, Finland's official Christmas City and former capital, at noon on Christmas Eve. It is broadcast in Finnish radio (since 1935) and television and nowadays also in some foreign countries.

The declaration ceremony begins with the hymn Jumala ompi linnamme (Martin Luther's A Mighty Fortress Is Our God) and continues with the Declaration of Christmas Peace read from a parchment roll:

"Tomorrow, God willing, marks the most gracious feast of the birth of our Lord and Saviour, and therefore a general Christmas peace is hereby declared, and all persons are directed to observe this holiday with due reverence and otherwise quietly and peacefully to conduct themselves, for whosoever breaks this peace and disturbs the Christmas holiday by any unlawful or improper conduct shall be liable, under aggravating circumstances, to whatever penalty is prescribed by law and decree for each particular offence or misdemeanour. Finally, all citizens are wished a joyous Christmas holiday."

Recently, there is also a declaration of Christmas peace for forest animals in many cities and municipalities, so there is no hunting during Christmas.

To find out more about Peace check out the Nobel Peace Prize website: - opens in a new window

Polmont Old Starry Night Picture © Iain Morrison Hope, Joy, Peace, Love -

Gentle blessings from above.

A rainbow bright, a starry night

To warm our hearts - the gift of light.

Polmont Old Shooting Star  Night Picture © Iain Morrison Hope, Joy, Peace, Love -

A star to follow from above.

Shining brightly in the night

To warm our hearts - the gift of light.

Polmont Old The light of dawn Picture © Iain Morrison Hope, Joy, Peace, Love -

The Son of God from heaven above

came down to us on Christmas night

To warm our hearts - the gift of light.

May you find this Christmas inner peace, equal to the patient love you give, releasing all the pain you can release, renewing all the grace with which you live.

Yearnings may you turn to rhapsodies, choosing to find happiness in beauty, holding in their haunting melodies riches that sustain your sense of duty.

In anger may you find an evening star showing you the way to Bethlehem.

The angels that watch from afar may you hear sing of who would none condemn.

As all you love are blessed in having you, so may you feel the joy in all you do.

After all that why not light a candle for Peace - click here - opens in a new window

Polmont Old Red poinsettia Picture © Iain Morrison P is also for Poinsettia which is the traditional Christmas plant.

The poinsettia is native to Central Americ, flourishing in Mexico. It was used by the ancient Aztecs to make textiles, cosmetics and medicine to treat fever. The Poinsettia gets its name from Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779 to 1851) He was the first American Ambassador to Mexico. "Poinsettia Day" in America is on December the 12th. It was declared in honour of the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett. Poinsett, who later founded the Smithsonian Institution: - opens in a new window was an avid lover of botany. He had his own greenhouse in South Carolina, after discovering the vibrant plant with the red leaves, he sent some back to South Carolina and began cultivating them.

Polmont Old Poinsettia Star Picture © Iain MorrisonThe legend of the poinsettia tells of Pepita, a poor Mexican girl who had no gift to bring to the Christ Child at the Christmas ve services. Her cousin Pedro encouraged her, telling her that even the most humble gift, if given in love, is acceptable in the eyes of the Lord. So Pepita knelt by the roadside and picked up some weeds to make into a bouquet, the best gift she was able to bring. When she brought her gift and placed it at the foot of the Nativity scene, her little weeds burst into brilliant red blooms. Everyone who saw it believed they had witnessed a Christmas Miracle. The plant came to be called the "Flores de Nocha Buena", or flowers of the Holy Night, because they bloomed each year during the Christmas season. Today it is an enduring symbol of Christmas.

Polmont Old Poinsettia Star Picture © Iain MorrisonThere are different colours of poinsettia today such as pink and white. The white one is used in many Churches throughout the world at Christmas time. It is included in the Advent ceremony when the white Christ Child Candle is lit.

There is another legend about the poinsettia, that on the night when Jesus was born, the ground mirrored back the light of the star with the pure white star shaped petals of this flower. As our Lord grew, so did this flower, but on the day He died, the blossoms changed and became red as blood.

Here are the simple words of the ceremony should you choose to use it in your own family Advent ceremony, remembering that white is the colour of peace.

Polmont Old White Poinsettia Picture © Iain MorrisonLord we bring this white poinsettia, the colour associated with peace, to symbolise your coming, in the midst of unrest and turmoil. Father we thank you for the gift of Your Son Jesus, and the peace he brings in our hearts, we bring the white poinsettia that echos the words of the Angels to the shepherds:

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests. Luke Ch2 v13 and 14. NIV.

Something to do today

Watch and listen to Linus tell Charlie Brown what Christmas is all about:

Here is a picture of the Dove of Peace to Colour in - Right Click on the picture to download and print out, or colour it in using the Paint Programme in your computer.

Polmont Old Peace Dove to colour in Picture ©