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  • Christmas Day

    By the wonders of advanced posting...

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     Wishing all my readers a Blessed Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Hope-Filled 2013.

    Christmas Day sees me leading worship around tables with steaming mugs of coffee/tea and Christmas goodies, then we clear the tables and reset for a Community Christmas Lunch to wihcih all comers are welcome. 

    I will be offline now until after the New Year, and would like to thank everyone who has supported this blog by reading and commenting (or trying to) over the past year.

     

    May God bless you, and all those you love, today and everyday.

  • Christmas Eve

    002.JPGA jam jar nativity?  No, it's one of forty jam jar lanterns made for our families and children's watchnight service, waiting to be painted with glass paints.  I had an amusing morning transferring peel off stickers onto jam jars - stars, bells, natiivty scenes, snowmen, Christmas trees... you name it, we had it!

    This year the level of coughs and colds and other lurgies is high, so I was very happy when we had half a dozen children and roughly double that number of adults.  Ably assisted by our knitted sheep and some sound effects we shared a retelling of the nativity story from a sheep's eye view!

    Later I will going a midnight service, and hope to find something special there too.

    Tomorrow is the 'big day' worship and then community lunch for whoever arrives... then that's it for another year!  Or is it?

     

    What was the first Christmas Eve like, Lord God?

    A heavily pregant girl going into labour in an overcrowded house in an overflowing town

    A man watching, helpless, as his young wife moaned and pushed, assisted undoubtedly by the local stool-woman

     

    And all around them life (and death) carrying on just the same as ever

    Beggars begging

    Soldiers soldiering

    Bullies bullying...

    And beyond neat alliteration people starving, weeping, cheating,

    Hoping, waiting, cooking, drinking, cleaning...

     

    Unseen

    Almost unheard

    A tiny waif slipped into the experienced hands of the midwife

    Opened his tiny mouth

    Filled his infant lungs

    And let out a mighty yell...

     

    And the man wiped sweat form the young girls brow

    And the girl drew the infant to her heavy breast

    And you, God, you nestled safe and content in her arms...

     

    Emmanuel, God with us.

  • Advent 4: Mary the Mother of Jesus

    advent_wreath_4_a.gifSo we arrive all too soon at the final Sunday of Advent  - a season which, this year, is almost as short as possible, lasting just over three weeks.  Today we traditionally recall Mary's "yes" to Gods' preposterous... question?  request?  demand?

    Who in their right mind would put their life at risk in such a way?  At best she would be cast out to live a hand-to-mouth existence as she struggled to raise this illegitimate child; at worst as soon as her pregnancy could no longer be hidden, she would slowly, painfully and publicly executed by stoning, her unborn child dying with her.  Now, we can leap in and say, 'ah but God would never allow that'... no?  Then it wasn't much of a risk for God then, was it?

    Fifteen years ago, give or take, I offered my own 'yes' to God's call on my life.  A call that is as nothing compared to that issued to Mary.  No one was going to execute me for claiming a call to ordained ministry (though they could, and sometimes did, make life unpleasant).  No one was going to cast me aside saying "well, you've made your bed, now you must lie in it" if it all went horribly long, and in any case I had plenty of transferable - an eminently commercial - skills. 

    In theory I oculd have said 'no'.  And, for that matter, so could Mary.  No thanks God, the price is too high, the risk too great, my plans and dreams too important to me...

    For me the call was unequivocal - there was no optoin but to say 'yes'.  I venture to suggest the same may have been the case for Mary.

    Often I think it is as well I had no idea what the outworking of God's call on my life would look like (will still turn out to look like).  I also think how essential it is that the conviction was utter - that there was no other answer possible.  I suspect these were so for Mary too, only probably much, much more so.

     

    I remember the day you called my name -

    So clear, so urgent, so undeniably real.

    I remember the bewilderment and delight,

    The anxiety and the certainty

     

    I couldn't know then what I know now -

    Could only dream of what the future might bring,

    And fear how it could all go horribly wrong.

    But I offered you my unhesitating, trusting 'yes'.

     

    I walk in the shadow of your mother -

    A woman who risked everything for you,

    A woman to whom you entrusted everything...

    A woman who said 'here I am, at your service.'

     

    Jesus, Son of God,

    Jesus, Son of Mary,

    Help me serve you too

     

    Amen