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  • Waiting, waiting, waiting...

    Whilst researching stuff for this week's sermon (title as above) I came across this poem - which I won't be reading out (at least not in full) but offers one perspective on the concept of waiting...

    A Poem by Faith Wilding

    Waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting . . .
    Waiting for someone to come in
    Waiting for someone to hold me
    Waiting for someone to feed me
    Waiting for someone to change my diaper Waiting . . .

    Waiting to scrawl, to walk, waiting to talk
    Waiting to be cuddled
    Waiting for someone to take me outside
    Waiting for someone to play with me
    Waiting for someone to take me outside
    Waiting for someone to read to me, dress me, tie my shoes
    Waiting for Mommy to brush my hair
    Waiting for her to curl my hair
    Waiting to wear my frilly dress
    Waiting to be a pretty girl
    Waiting to grow up Waiting . . .

    Waiting for my breasts to develop
    Waiting to wear a bra
    Waiting to menstruate
    Waiting to read forbidden books
    Waiting to stop being clumsy
    Waiting to have a good figure
    Waiting for my first date
    Waiting to have a boyfriend
    Waiting to go to a party, to be asked to dance, to dance close
    Waiting to be beautiful
    Waiting for the secret
    Waiting for life to begin Waiting . . .

    Waiting to be somebody
    Waiting to wear makeup
    Waiting for my pimples to go away
    Waiting to wear lipstick, to wear high heels and stockings
    Waiting to get dressed up, to shave my legs
    Waiting to be pretty Waiting . . .

    Waiting for him to notice me, to call me
    Waiting for him to ask me out
    Waiting for him to pay attention to me
    Waiting for him to fall in love with me
    Waiting for him to kiss me, touch me, touch my breasts
    Waiting for him to pass my house
    Waiting for him to tell me I’m beautiful
    Waiting for him to ask me to go steady
    Waiting to neck, to make out, waiting to go all the way
    Waiting to smoke, to drink, to stay out late
    Waiting to be a woman Waiting . . .

    Waiting for my great love
    Waiting for the perfect man
    Waiting for Mr. Right Waiting . . .

    Waiting to get married
    Waiting for my wedding day
    Waiting for my wedding night
    Waiting for sex
    Waiting for him to make the first move
    Waiting for him to excite me
    Waiting for him to give me pleasure
    Waiting for him to give me an orgasm Waiting . . .

    Waiting for him to come home, to fill my time Waiting . . .
    Waiting for my baby to come
    Waiting for my belly to swell
    Waiting for my breasts to fill with milk
    Waiting to feel my baby move
    Waiting for my legs to stop swelling
    Waiting for the first contractions
    Waiting for the contractions to end
    Waiting for the head to emerge
    Waiting for the first scream, the afterbirth
    Waiting to hold my baby
    Waiting for my baby to suck my milk
    Waiting for my baby to stop crying
    Waiting for my baby to sleep through the night
    Waiting for my breasts to dry up
    Waiting to get my figure back, for the stretch marks to go away
    Waiting for some time to myself
    Waiting to be beautiful again
    Waiting for my child to go to school
    Waiting for life to begin again Waiting . . .

    Waiting for my children to come home from school
    Waiting for them to grow up, to leave home
    Waiting to be myself
    Waiting for excitement
    Waiting for him to tell me something interesting, to ask me how I feel
    Waiting for him to stop being crabby, reach for my hand, kiss me good morning
    Waiting for fulfillment
    Waiting for the children to marry
    Waiting for something to happen Waiting . . .

    Waiting to lose weight
    Waiting for the first gray hair
    Waiting for menopause
    Waiting to grow wise
    Waiting . . .

    Waiting for my body to break down, to get ugly
    Waiting for my flesh to sag
    Waiting for my breasts to shrivel up
    Waiting for a visit from my children, for letters
    Waiting for my friends to die
    Waiting for my husband to die Waiting . . .

    Waiting to get sick
    Waiting for things to get better
    Waiting for winter to end
    Waiting for the mirror to tell me that I’m old
    Waiting for a good bowel movement
    Waiting for the pain to go away
    Waiting for the struggle to end
    Waiting for release
    Waiting for morning
    Waiting for the end of the day
    Waiting for sleep Waiting . . .

    “Waiting” was performed at Womanhouse in Los Angeles sponsored by the Feminist Art Program, California Institute of the Arts.

  • Advent in Narnia - Week 1

    It's one of those damp, dreary west-coast days when it never quite gets light, so it was a great delight to create a cosy, festive Narnia-themed space for those able to share our first reflection.  Focussing on the start of the story, with Lucy going through the wardrobe and meeting Mr Tumnus under the lamppost, we were inivted to ponder something of what Advent means for us, and the role of repentance, a traditional Advent theme.

    Because we used a film clip as part of our input, it's tricky to share the material here.  However, if you have a copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, you read chapters 1 and 2 to get a feel for the story.  If by some strange chance you have the DVD of the BBC version, then Epsiode 1 starting at 8mins 55 secs and continuing to 12 mins 26 secs should do the trick!

    Here is the Biblical material and 'pondering questions' we used in case anyone finds them useful...

    John 10: 7 – 9

    Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.

    Revelation 3: 15 - 22

    ‘I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.” You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.’


    Isaiah 9: 2 – 6

    The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
    those who lived in a land of deep darkness - on them light has shined.
    You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy;
    they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.
    For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.
    For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
    For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders;
    and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

    John 1: 5

    The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

    Time to Ponder

    • What makes Advent special for you? Why is this?
    • Lucy went through a door and discovered a whole new world. Jesus claims to be a gate (or door) for the sheep – what adventures might that lead to?
    • Repentance is traditionally a major theme in Advent, what thoughts are stirred for you by the action of Mr Tumnus or by the Bible readings?
    • The lamppost in Narnia shines on no matter what, a metaphor with clear echoes of Christ as the light of the world.       What lampposts are there in our own inner worlds? How can light shine in dark places this Advent?
  • Just Pray...

    The decision by cinemas to ban an advert featuring people praying the Lord's Prayer for fear of offending people, unspecified, who it is feared may be offended has, as is the way of these things, proved counterproductive - social media is flooded with 'shares' of the video (above) and some very clever and incisive comment, such as this by a Baptist minister friend in London:

    "If the Cinema won't show any adverts relating to any faith, and have refused to show the CofE "Lord's Prayer" advert before the new Star Wars film; what are they to do about the 176,632 people who declared themselves Jedi in the 2011 Census?"

    There is any amount of nonsensical "poor me' Christianity out there, that sees persecution at every turn, and I certainly don't see what the cinemas have done as persecution, just decidedly disappointing, given the BBFC and cinema adverstising board had approved the ad.  Some good comment online, and also a BBC article here.

    A prayer - or plea - for a society characterised peace, where basic human needs are satisfied, where mutual forgiveness is exercised, where people escape cycles of temptation and evil.... is that so terrible, so offensive to people who might not have a declared faith...

    And if Jedi is a faith, and the cinemas are studiously ignoring that, isn't it as a minimum a little rude and insconsierate of them....?

    So, we can have adverts for sugary drinks when the incidence of diabetes is rising; adverts for consumer goods that simply fuel consumerism, adverts for films whose values we may not agree with... but not one that simply expresses hope.... hmmm, sigh, hmmm some more.

    Here endeth the rant!

    EDIT some other responses, and different opinions...

    Nick Lear
    Archdruid Eileen

  • To what purpose...

    Last year, like lots of other people, I gave chocolate advent calendars and selection boxes to the local foodbank. I have done the same today.

    I know foodbanks aren't the answer to food poverty.

    I also know what it is like having to choose between buying food and paying utility bills - and not because I was on benefit but because mortgage interest was over 17% and wages frozen (late 1980s).

    And I know what it is like to depend on handouts because state benefits just won't cover everything... from free school meals to WVS clothes parcels, and even, if memory serves half a hundredweight of coal from an anonymous benefactor, my family was glad to receive help from others back in the 1970s when long term sickness prevented my Dad from working.

    An advent calendar or a choice of chocolate bars won't solve the problems of food or fuel poverty, but it might just bring a smile to someone's face and restore a teeny bit of hope.

    A woman once poured a jar of expensive perfume over the feet of an itinerant rabbi and was criticised by those who saw: "surely she could have sold it and given the money to the poor." The rabbi sighed, and observed "you will always have poor people. What she has done is beautiful." I like to think that some chocolate added to a bag of tins and packets might carry just a hint of such loveliness.

  • If a picture paints a thousand words...

    Cross-posting from social media....

    ... someone was asking about favourite images of Jesus, and I shared this one, which I often turn to at this time of year. It is a sculpture at St Martin's in the Fields, London, and was done for the millenium. The person I shared it with said it brought to mind the images of refugee children washed up on beaches... and I can see that.

    Whatever belief system (or none) we follow, this is a striking image... the hope that is born in every child and that, with the right conditions, will bring joy and love to this world.

    For me, the idea of a divinity who would do something so utterly ridiculous as to become a human infant, entering the messyness of human sin and finitude is a incredibly powerful. Historical fact, myth or mystery, frankly I'm not bothered too much - the truth of hope revealed in vulnerability, risking everything in the cause of love... that is worth telling again and again.

    Lots of sadness, anger, bewilderment and more being expressed on social media... and also lots of love, kindness, courage and hope. Advent is a complex and often misunderstood liturgical season but at it's heart is the refusal to give up hope, to trust that one day, one day, the waiting will be over and peace and love will fill a renewed creation.