Why My Perfect Family Is Better Than Yours!

Why My Perfect Family Is Better Than Yours!

Here in the UK there is a (not so) great tradition of sending yearly family newsletters around about Christmas time. I am unsure if it is just a Christian phenomenon or a class thing because I never came across them in my life when I was growing up. However, many of them are unintentionally hilarious. Being a pastor we used to get more than our fair share of these things. Every year 10’s of these letters would be delivered to us, chronicling the amazing family antics of such and such a family. We would read in amazement of ‘perfect’ 3 year olds who were ‘supernaturally gifted’ or of little Sally whose performance in the school Nativity ‘moved many in the audience to tears’. We would read of Mum’s superhuman efforts ‘around the home, in the kitchen & being the lynch pin the lady’s championship performing flower arranging society’. Dad, would be there too, overseeing his remarkable brood having been abroad 47 tines on business, had 4 promotions, become an elder in the local church, rebuilt a Rolls Royce Phantom in the garage and completed a half marathon every weekend. Of course, he will have been ‘slightly disappointed’ with his times but, as he always says: ‘There’s always room for improvement.’ The whole thing would be completed will a small selection of photos of the family in various poses, with at least one of the children posing with a trumpet!

So, in response to this bizarre behaviour, a few years ago I began to write our own part spoof, part serious McConnell Family Newsletter. The result was that slowly but surely over the years we have been receiving less and less of these newsletter from friends and family :). Secondly, there are others who still think that what I write is serious and are ‘simply staggered’ at the exploits of our incredible family! So, here is this year’s offering. Enjoy!


Yes, it’s that time of year again. I know many of you have been breathless with anticipation for the McConnell Christmas Newsletter! Fret not for your wait is over as we willingly share with you the highs and highs of our past year together. The Bible tells us to weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn and share in the joy of those whose lives are full of unending bliss! Let me guarantee you that you won’t be mourning or weeping – it’s joy all the way on the McConnell Express (Kerrching!)

So, what have we been up to for the past 12 months?

Family Stuff

The girls continue to astound and amaze Miriam and I in equal measure. How quickly they are growing up into fine young women. This year we set them the task of learning one language a month but, unfortunately, due to illness they have only managed to conquer 10. A bit of a disappointment, but, as I explained to them, every failure (and this was a big one) is merely an opportunity to grow and develop. We grounded them for a week and during that time they surprised us by memorising the book of Revelation – in Cantonese!

Miriam has begun to broaden her input into the life of the church here in Niddrie. Her Cross Stitch Club is a particularly big hit among some of the local girls. Also, as we approach the Christmas season in the café she has been selling bacon butties in the shape of the cross. She then garnishes the plate with 12 button mushrooms (for the disciples) and a hash brown in the shape of a gold coin (to represent Judas). The locals have absolutely loved the idea and it has led to loads of conversations, helped in no small part by the Bible verses we have printed on the paper napkins (courtesy of our local ladies group).

This year, to the surprise and delight our neighbours, we made a giant reindeer suit to put the girls in. Miriam dressed as Mrs Claus, I dressed as Santa and we did a small dramatisation in the street entitled: ‘How our rampant materialism and disgusting greed has killed the real meaning of Christmas’. The highlight came at the end when we burned the costumes and quoted scripture from the Bible to them. We then presented each of them with a small decorative plaque, inscribed with, ‘repent or perish’. They were all so overcome with emotion that most of them were left speechless! I often reflect how our neighbours must be so grateful for us living amongst them. A real evidence of God’s common grace in their midst!

At the moment we are planning a small operetta entitled: ‘How Cliff Richard killed Christmas.’ It’s been a bit tricky memorising the music but we have worked on a killer harmony for ‘Mistletoe & Wine’ as I am sure you all know is perhaps one of the greatest (and often overlooked and under appreciated) Christmas songs of all time. Despite the title – it’s meant to be postmodern irony after all– it is really a pastiche of all our favourites from Cliff. We are premiering it in the church on Christmas Day and the whole community seems abuzz with anticipation!

Niddrie News (the serious bit)

The really big news is that Niddrie recently voted on going completely independent from Charlotte Chapel. We are still dependent financially on the giving of individuals outside of our community but we have, in effect, been functioning autonomously for the last few years. We are very excited for the future and are working on future plans at the moment. Please pray that we would keep our focus on the gospel and our eyes fixed firmly on the Lord Jesus Christ. We are completely dependent upon Him.


We have seen a number of people come to the Lord this year and we are working with them in ongoing discipleship. As per usual, this is messy in this area and they take up a lot of time and effort. Please pray for their perseverance and growth in the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus.

James Ramsay House

We currently have a young mother living in the house and she is doing really well personally and spiritually. Her name is Charlene and we are hoping that she will get involved in our training programme in due course. Please pray for her because she faces lots of opposition to her faith in the community, particularly from former drug suppliers. She is facing many personal issues and needs our continual prayer.

The church in Scotland

I launched a blog in April this year: www.niddriepastor.com charting the issues surrounding church planting and pastoral work in an inner city housing scheme (council estate in the rest of the UK). Please check it out. Most of it is serious and some of it is fun. It is meant to be provocative and it is meant to challenge. We recently carried out a low level survey of the top 50 most deprived housing schemes in Scotland and discovered that 50% of them have no gospel witness, the other 50% having a handful of good works and the other dying churches. Our vision as a church is to try and:

1.     Train young men and women to go into these areas in order to plant and/restore dying churches.

2.     Develop an in-house training scheme for young people to be able to do this. We currently train our people with a mixture of the Porterbrook Training Material and CCEF. We are hoping to role this out.

3.     Link up with and share resources with others in Scotland engaged in this kind of ministry

Please pray for us as we pursue this vision of a gospel church in each of these communities.

New York

As a family we spent 5 weeks in NY this year as Mez studied with Tim Keller & his team at Redeemer Presbyterian in training church planters to train church planters. It was really beneficial in so many ways (and rubbish in others) and the hope is to partner with ‘City to City’, a planting movement in Europe that seeks to equip and encourage planting movements across our continent. These are exciting days for us.

Thanks so much for supporting us as a family.

God bless for Christmas and the New Year.

Mez Miriam Keziah & Lydia.



60 Niddrie Marischal Road, Edinburgh. EH16 4LQ