Having lived in an office where my bookcases were hidden behind my advent drapes for over a month it was so lovely, this week, to take them down and see my books once more! And it's also nice, if not entirely liturgically correct to revert to green. The Christmas Day candle now takes on the role of 'Christ Candle' until it burns too short, probably around the start of Lent.
And my clothes are definitely old, predating my move to Glasgow. I am nothing if not environmentally sound when it comes to clothes!
Beginning a series of series in Luke (the gospel, not the Luke-Acts combo) and hoping it engages other people, as I am enjoying working on it,
This afternoon, I have spent a happy half an hour taking at look at what new things have been published for use during Lent and Holy Week. I am, I think, excited by the titles, and encouraged by the blurb, so I just hope the books live up to them.
It is one of the those strangenesses of the 'greeting-card' world I inhabit, that you have to keep at least one major festival ahead of the game in your thinking.
'Hope and the Nearness of God' by Sister Teresa White (Bloomsbury) and 'Forty Women' by Ros Clarke (IVP) will each give me something worth reflecting upon, I am sure. If any readers have suggestions, I'd be interested to hear about them.
Hopefully, I will be posting here, and not just in church social media.
So, once again it's January, and once again I have parted with money in order to keep this blog going. The last year was a bit rubbish from a blogging perspective - keeping the Church social media presence active took priority (rightly). But not everyone reads social media (how wise) and not everything I think about is relevant or appropriate for that platform, so I will try to be more intentional about posting here.
Today was our first service of the year, our 94th successive Sunday on Zoom (I counted twice!) and it was well attended. Now left wondering what to do with the Advent candles - I still have the stumps of the previous set too. I do have a friend who makes candles, so maybe that's a possibility? What do others do with old candles?
Apologies to those who were following the Jesse tree posts - I bit off more than I could chew in an especially busy advent, and, alas, that was the thing that was dropped. I still did it every day, just didn't have the energy, time or whatever to post here.
Today I added the final symbol, and have to admit I am quite pleased with the result. The pinnacle of the story is not someone powerful or someone with a story to tell, but a newborn baby. Yes, sure, this is God incarnate, this is the Christ child, but, as represented here, a baby whose story is as yet unknown. Unable to speak, other than to cry with hunger or pain, or to gurgle with joy, he cannot announce or denounce anything. Utterly dependent on his mother for food, security and warmth, he cannot heal the sick, feed the hungry or raise the dead. This choice of 'kenosis' of self-emptying defies logic - why would a God take such a huge risk?
Also, as I look at the tree I have made, I see how layer upon layer of human story somehow underpins this story or upholds this child whose symbol is the pinnacle of it all. Somehow, all those flawed people are part of this amazing story of love and new beginning.
Perhaps this is the key to it all - the profound mystery that never-ending love is found in the frailty and vulnerability of all life.
It doesn't matter that I ran out of steam and didn't complete the Advent books I began with such earnest intent. It doesn't matter that the everyday crowded out the overtly devotional. What matters is that God still chooses to be born again in the hearts and minds of frail, failing people, as, once more, the gift of love completes the story.