Merry Christmas from Ireland!
It has been nearly 6 months since I arrived in Ireland. I can't begin to tell you how much I have been enjoying watching the seasons change from Summer to Autumn, and Autumn to Winter (which by the way, happens a month early here). Today, being the shortest day of the year, we get 7.2 hours of sunlight. Sunrise at 8:54 and the sunsets at 4:15. It is pretty exciting to think from now till June, every day will get longer.
Christmas in Ireland so far here is great. I am enjoying learning the culture and the way the Irish celebrate Christmas and the subtle differences from what I am used to. Some of the differences are:
- Candles in the windows. This is seen sometimes in the States, but it is an Irish tradition that started here and most homes have a candle in every window.
- Christmas lights. They are seen in town, but not on homes because electricity is very expensive her.
- Minced pie. This seems to be a favorite around here for children and adults. Link to Recipe!
- Christmas pudding. I was browsing Christmas cards in the store and I saw one where a Chef carrying Christmas pudding was being chased. I didn’t get it. So I asked around. Christmas pudding is a favorite around here. Link to Recipe!
- Christmas Greetings. The Irish don’t say Merry Christmas here they say Happy Christmas.
The most favorite Irish Tradition that I will look forward to every year is the Carols Service. Most churches across Ireland have a Christmas Carols service. In my last update, I sent you a picture of what our Invitation for Calvary Ballina looked like. Our Carols night was on the 11th. We had around 60 people come! It was very family, child-friendly with hot chocolate and treats, including minced pies. There was a Christmas message and a call to know God through Jesus.
I invited 20 people to our Carols by Candlelight, face to face, all seemed eager to come, but only one came. I was tempted to be discouraged about that, but I had told myself if one comes I will be happy. So I was. I was reading through my Bible reading plan and came to the parable of the sower. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get lazy in my reading and was tempted to skim over this section because I am really familiar with it. Knowing I was being lazy, I slowed myself down and read every word intentionally. In my reading, I was reminded of my invitations to carols and even though my invitations did not equal the gospel, I was encouraged to sow more abundantly. God's word did a sweet work on my heart moving it from self-will to trusting that the word is effectual and that God prepares the hearts. I was so encouraged and could have missed that blessing if I allowed myself to be lazy in my reading. He is faithful!
These events are not the goal for us a church. They are simply an opportunity to reach out to our community and show them the love of Christ. Pray for the seeds that have been scattered that will fall on good soil to the Praise and Glory of God.
JJ Heller came out with a Christmas album this year that I love. She posted all of her songs on YouTube for free! This song reminds me of Ireland. Please listen to this song!
Love from Ireland!
Patti Parks : )