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  • Jesse Tree

    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.

  • The Bethlehem Star

    This is the poem, by Gerard Manley Hopkins, set to music and arranged  by Bob Chilcott, with which we closed our evening reflections...
    Moonless darkness stands between.
    Past, the Past, no more be seen!
    But the Bethlehem-star may lead me
    To the sight of Him Who freed me
    From the self that I have been.
    Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
    Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
    Now beginning, and alway:
    Now begin, on Christmas day.

  • Born Among Us - Day 19

    Today's nativity scene comes from southern France or northern Spain and includes 'santons' the little saints, or ordinary people, who bring to Jesus the gifts of their everyday lives such as bread, or music, spinning or fishing. Even the animals become santons, offering warmth, strength or kindness.

    As our Advent journey reaches its conclusion, and we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we join with other 'santons' around the world to bring ourselves into the story, into the picture, and to worship the newborn Christ.

  • Born Among Us - Day 18

    This szopka scene is an example of the colourful and often elaborate nativity scenes created in homes of people in the Krakow area of Poland. Anywhere between 12cm and 2m in height, they usually include a model of an actual church, and may also include extra layers with characters from the both Polish history and present day life.

    On Christmas Eve, families may share in ritual ceremony where oplatek (holy bread) wafers are shared as a sign of forgiveness, reconciliation and hope.  This simple yet beautiful ceremony recalls the birth of Jesus and the promise of peace and goodwill to all. 

  • Born Among Us - Day 16

    Today.s image comes from Australia, and is painted by Deborah Durie Saines,, about whom I could find out nothing other than she was named as the illustrator of a devotional book published in 1995.

    The image combines traditional symbolism and colours with cultural references, such as the stars of the Southern Cross in the sky, and the location being a rocky outcrop.  Mary seems to be having a well-deserved snooze as Jesus is sleeping nearby in his cradle.