So, as most Bible readings schemes shift gear and offer us the run up to Christmas day, Northumbria Community stoically carry on with their scripture cycle. I would have to say, there was a time when this would have annoyed me, I have been known to abandon Bible reading notes in the last week of Advent because I wanted to read the Christmas story rather than continue a worthy, but gloomy, series on some scary prophet or uncomfortable bit of an epistle. Today, I am actually content to have something 'un-Christmassy'... which goes to show you can never please your readers!!
Today's verses are:
Psalm 88:13 - 14
Romans 8: 38-39
The Psalm is a bit violent really - God shooting arrows and casting thunderbolts at people, so I'll skip that, thanks all the same. The Genesis is a reassuring promise - so long as earth remains there will be seed time and harvest - but it doess't quite do it for me today. Instead it is Paul at his most poetic (Paul poetic?!) in Romans that seems to carry the hopeful message of love...
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In recent days the world news has included the destructive power of tropical storms in the Philippines and earthquakes in New Zealand, as well as the ongoing violence in Iraq, to name but three. Financial crises in Europe, unemployment in Britain, and phones calls or emails to alert me to people who are sick or dying... the festive season always has a shadow side. A pernicious kind of darkness creeps around the margins trying to swamp the flickering candles of hope, peace, joy and love.
Can defeat God's love manifest in Christ.
Love loiters on the battlefield, arms outstretched to embrace each combatant
And each civilian trapped by human inhumanity
Love lingers at the beside, tenderly taking the hand of sick and dying
And each anxious loved one who waits and watches
Love lurks in the ruins, hands sifting the rubble to touch each victim
And strengthen each rescuer who listens and lifts
Love, loitering, lingering, lurking...
Wrap all creation in yourself again