TOO MUCH WORRY
Too much worry!
Have I ticked everything on the 'to do' list?
It's just too much pressure
just to make one day special.
What if there is black ice or a snow drift
and I can't pick mother up
or get to church ?
What if we need some urgent help
and everyone has closed for the holiday?
Have I got enough food / presents in?
What will we do with the visitors
on Boxing Day?
All this rushing and fussing, worn out with worry.
At the end of the noisy busy service
I stay behind whilst sacristans and churchwardens
are clearing up.
I sit in front of the crib
and at last God has a moment to speak.
The event meets me as I am,
tired, relieved, but full of joy,
and God with us comes to lift me up
so that I can be united
not with the messengers
nor with just the message
but with God-made-present.
There is nothing left to say
but embrace the sacred presence
in the silence of the night
and know that God is mine and I am God's.
Christmastide and Epiphany
CHRISTMAS COMES AND CHRISTMAS GOES
Christmas comes, and Christmas goes
so what abides for ever?
Strip away the tinsel and the baubles,
the madly flashing lights,
the bulging shops for bulging shoppers,
the just so pretty stable scene
all mixed up with Santa and singing snowmen
and well-behaved robins perched on
last year’s dusted holly wreath.
Strip away the sugary romances
all with white Christmas scenes,
mixed in with a touch of traditional carols
washed down with adverts for indigestion,
all wrapped up in worry about cards not sent
and presents not bought,
all tied together in a stressful sentimental
bow and some angel dust(with see through wings)
Strip it all away
and who or what is at the heart of
Christ – Mass?
God descends but in an uncondescending way.
He comes humbly and vulnerable
dependent on people.
And some will tell us that this birth
speaks of a new way of living.
But we don’t want that heavy stuff
all that incarnational speak
to spoil our frothy escape from the
dullness of December.
Keep on ding dong merrily on high,
with shepherds in tea-towel hats
and angels with clip-on fairy wings,
and with a stage-struck Mary
and a yawning Joseph.
Christmas magic is really for the children –
it is only meant for adults to cheer up
winter’s lowest ebb.
We don’t really want to unwrap
any deep meanings thank you.
Sermons are a good time to mentally
run through check lists – did I buy
the stuffing for the turkey?
Have I caught the scout post in time?
But there are clues throughout the story.
A child, whether pampered in Herod’s palace
or roughing it in a stabling cave
is only the start of a life.
It is the people who peer into the crib
who want to be Peter Pan.
Meek and mild as in child
A passive God is best – a distant God is safe,
a sentimental God is cosy;
Until things go wrong
and then we sing:
“If there is a God in heaven
what’s he waiting for.”
So welcome the child who opens his divine life,
his human heart,
welcome and reflect on the challenging
words of the teacher – the Master.
For this child’s arms will grow
to be stretched out on a cross –
this life cannot be sealed up
in a stone cold tomb.
For from the start love was God’s meaning.
Not the sentimental love that is centred on feelings,
but the transforming sacrificial love
that cannot be tamed or contained,
but is forever breaking out
in people’s lives –
That’s the good news that’s worth
Living and dying for …. not wrapping up!
INCARNATION (not just for Christmas)
When God revealed himself
through the incarnation of his Son,
he filled the world with immense joy.
There are announcements,
promises, and miracles;
a remarkable process of events
in which the main participants
are astonished by the touch of God.
They all received infinitely more
than they had either expected
or believed possible:
sterile Elizabeth bears a child;
incredulous Zechariah prophesies;
the virgin becomes a mother;
shepherds speak with
the Magi bring the best they can offer,
and return with much more
than they had brought;
Joseph is affirmed
in his blind faith in God;
and Simeon is ready to embrace death
now that he has seen
the light to enlighten all nations.
Rejoice! that you are able to celebrate
Christmas once a year.
Rejoice! that you are able to celebrate
the Incarnation daily,
by turning away from sin and
being faithful to the Gospel,
by being taken from birth
to death and resurrection,
by being sent out to share the Good News
in the power of the Pentecostal Spirit.
This reflection is based on the Glastonbury Pilgrimage sermon of Brother Angelo SSF
A favourite Feast.
Spices perfume the air,
incense ascends and disappears,
the glint of real gold,
the bitter release of ground myrrh,
the rustle of eastern robes,
the unforgettable smell of camels;
and all covered with layers
of fine dust from the night fire.
And all coming to rest,
not in a lush palatial oasis-
a place with servants
running for jugs of scented water,
and for fruit and spicy meats,
and dancers to entertain.
But a place full of hay and rotting wood,
smelling of sweaty animals
and left-over food begged from a nearby inn.
No haloes glowing,
no cherubs floating,
not a flap of distant angel-wings,
and no retinue of constant visitors.
Just a few gawping shepherds
plodding back to work.
Nothing said, no great speeches,
but bowing low
and silently offering gifts
that seem so out of place.
And what was understood?
What inner message shone through
the outward sign?
What was shown forth?
Only God knows.
So rather than place more words into the scene,
come and enter the silence,
Bow low with the whole of your life
and let the mystery speak and shape you
and invite you in
to a mystery as new as it is old.