Thursday, 29 December 2016


I write flash fiction.  I love the brevity of the form, its genre flexibility (I’ve written humorous pieces, crime tales etc) and it is great for using “incidents” not long enough to form a standard short story.

I think the rise in popularity in flash fiction has been the ease of reading it on tablets, mobile phones and so on.  What has that to do with More than Writers?  The impact of flash is brief.  The impact of our lives is brief (especially from God’s perspective) but should we despair? No! 

If a short story captures a moment in time, a flash tale captures half a moment.  Flash fiction reminds me of the old saying about ships that pass in the night. Meet a person here, you may never meet them again, but you can make a tremendous difference to them. 

Are there flash moments in the Nativity?  Yes!  Image via Pixabay
I remember years ago meeting a lovely Christian lady who taught me a great deal about how to lose gracefully (I needed to know!). I’ve not met her since.  I don’t know if she’s still alive but her gracious comments have stood me in good stead.

Even the Nativity has its “flash”  moments (and not just when the angels arrive!). 

We never know the innkeeper’s name.  We never know how much he helped Mary and Joseph after allowing them the use of the stable. (I think some help would have been inevitable given Mary would've been a frightened girl about to give birth for the first time).  We never know how the innkeeper and his wife helped the couple with meals.  When Herod’s men came through with murderous intent, did the innkeeper keep quiet about the strange visitors they’d had (in itself helping the Holy Family)?

Maybe the inn did look like this.  Image via Pixabay
What matters as far the Nativity is concerned is that sole mention of allowing the use of the stable.  One action but what a difference it made.  Perhaps we shouldn’t be concerned with our “legacy” then.  Perhaps our focus should be on the impact of our actions and words on others, whether we meet them once or know them for a lifetime.

I also love the innkeeper’s story since most stories of school Nativity productions, the funny moments nearly always involve him.

My favourite tale is about a school production on a remote Scottish island renowned for its hospitality (sorry, Wendy, the story didn’t mention which one!). 

The innkeeper is upset for having to tell Mary and Joseph there is no room at the inn.  The lad playing the innkeeper has also clearly been told he must keep to the script.  So manfully he does.  But the moment his official role is over he stage whispers to Mary, “Come back later and I’ll see what I can do”.

I still laugh.  That was this innkeeper’s flash moment! (Maybe the real innkeeper did tell Mary something like that!).

Strange visitors... did the innkeeper keep quiet about them?  Image via Pixabay
A typical Nativity scene but did the innkeeper (and wife) play a crucial supporting role afterwards we do not know about?  Image via Pixabay
Let’s aim for our impact to be positive, even if is only as “flash” moments.  We may never know what difference those moments make to others but Jesus does.

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