Today's PAYG told the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and the promise of the some who would be called John. Dumbstruck by the possibility, they waited and wondered until, sure enough, in due course the baby arrived. Part of what struck me as I heard the reading was the anticipation of what his life might be like - the promises and dictates of the angel, the reactions of his parents who began to dream and wonder.
Perhaps it struck me as I celebrate my own "significant birthday", and I read the words penned by mother in the card she sent, recalling her feelings on that winter's day half a century ago. I wonder what she hoped and dreamed and imagined on that day, and to what extent her endeavours to fulfil those goals have been successful? I know that some of what she assumed has not come to pass, and that much she could never have imagined has. At least she has lived to see how my life turned out - I doubt very much John's parents did.
God of Elizabeth and Zechariah,
Who conceives each new life even before s/he is physcially present
Help me - help us - to recognise afresh
The sacrificial love and the hope-filled dreams that inspired our parents
Who bore us, and brought us up,
Who taught us and shaped our lives
We are not naive enough to pretend that all children are cherished
Not blind to the violence and poverty that blight, in differing ways, young lives
Not foolish enough to think that every parent sees their children fulfilled
But in this moment, on this day
We thank you for what has been good in our own upbringing
And, if needs be, let go regret, bitterness or grudges that snare us
God of hopes and dreams
Hear our prayer