The Last Straw

December 05, 2023 2 0
The Last Straw

This month's theme image unlike our usual illustrations has been created as a digital composite image using Artificial Intellegence combined with digital painting. Look our for our upcoming blog to read more.


The last straw laid by Mary in the manger for her newborn to sleep.


Christmas, it can sometimes feel like the last straw can’t it! Coming at the end of the year, it’s cold and dark and then there’s all this expense and faff! We’ve made it into this whole thing. Sometimes, honestly, we think, could we not just skip it? Overwhelmed, scunnered, and fed up, “That does it!” we mutter under our breath. But this year as we gather together in the dark and cold of winter we are going to discover that ‘the last straw’ of the nativity is not the end of something, but only the beginning. For the last straw is that wee handful of straw that held the baby Jesus! Who comes to tell us “I ken, and I care, I love you, come, adore me!”

Let’s strip away all the pressure and expectation we’ve layered on top of Christmas and embrace the irony that ‘the last straw’ is actually a sign of hope! Together we will be playfully making a thatch of straw, weaving together grace, peace and faith, to make a shelter to gather under and gaze at the wonder of Jesus’s birth anew.

Because when it comes down to it, at the last moment, at the last straw, is love.

And you know what, as we go through Advent we see that straw is a recurring image throughout the nativity. So we are going to see what it can teach us about fragility and resilience, vulnerability and courage, and most of all: the sustaining power of God’s timeless love as it breaks into the midst of our complicated, messy lives.


The last straw laid by Mary in the manger for her newborn to sleep. The last straw the weary donkey chewed on as it stamped its aching hooves. The last straw of the shepherds huddling on a hillside. The last straw for humanity that was the incarnation, Jesus coming to be with us. The last straws we face that threaten to break the camel’s back. This Advent we will make a kind of thatch of all this straw. A place where we can shelter and rest and look up at the strands of grace, peace and faith woven together.

For amongst the straw, motes floating in the air, caught in the moonlight and an angelic glow, a voice speaks to Mary…

For amongst the straw Jospeh and Mary bedded down with their donkey on the journey, exhausted but determined…

For amongst the straw the shepherds encountered angels, finding themselves speechless and then speechfull…

For amongst the straw of the manger, Jesus was tenderly placed by Mary — vulnerable and courageous…

Straw is a fascinating material that we have been using for thousands of years for its unique properties. It is both fragile and strong, more that the sum of its parts. As well as fodder for animals, straw is an insulator that traps air and has been used in so many ways, such as for bedding, housebuilding, manufacturing, storing and preparing food, packaging, basket making, producing paper, stuffing scarecrows, making clothing.

Just as straw, gathered together to create an insulating thermal effect, can trap heat and ward off the cold and dark, or spoiling and ruining — so can the power of God’s grace, peace, and love. When we are clutching at straws, have pulled the last straw, or worried that the next one may break the camel’s back, we gather together in God’s love to trap the ancient heat of the universe to warm our hands, hearts and souls. Jesus has come!

Christmas is the last straw? Aye, and it’s brilliant! Because the last straw is love!


When it comes down to it, at the last moment, the last straw is love!


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Why not try joining a connect group this month? There are multiple In-Person and Online Connect Groups all over the country that use Sanctuary First's Connect material, why not get in touch as see if there is a group near you? Contact