Sunday, 21 December 2014

You are the story


Luke 2:20
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

They came to worship.
knowing that
on this last Sunday in Advent
we'd be ready
to break out the Christmas Carols
and  to unfold the Christmas story.
The star that had been making its way
through the sanctuary
as Advent progressed 
was placed over the choir at the front.
As the children processed
dropping glitter in their wake
there was a buzz of expectation.
Children and adults dressed up
and took part
Angels, shepherds, wise men too.
Mary was a single mum for a time
until one of the shepherds 
stepped into the breach.
One angel was well into his 70s
The three kings were four
And the baby God?
Was there the whole time
from beginning to end
Not asleep on the hay
but coorying in beside
the widower chilled with grief
Embracing the young mother
worn out working all hours to make ends meet
Lifting the spirits of the gran
whose family are all far away
And heading home
with all who were entranced
by the beauty and simplicity
of the story 
of Emmanuel
God with us.

It's all about the story

Matthew 1:18
The Birth of Jesus the Messiah
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

The Day of the Nativity Play
There's a buzz in the air
The adults arrive early
intent on snagging the best seats,
the best viewpoint
from which to see their charges re-enact
the greatest story ever told.
The children too seem extra fidgety
They won't stand still
while tea towels are affixed to shepherds
and tinsel to glittery angels
Even the Kings seem electrified
though they are older
and supposedly more jaded
But with their crowns perched atop slicked back hair
and their gifts clutched tightly in their hands
they too seem ruffled by the moment.
Only Mary seems calm and serene.
Although I don't know how, since Joseph is tearing around
pretend fighting with the shepherds
Just as well those staffs are foam and not wood!
Those tea towels are off again!
And who put the camels, the donkey and the sheep
in those ridiculous positions?
Someone has been messing with the manger!
And the baby Jesus is nowhere to be seen.
But it's time to go.
The choir have finished singing.
The angel Gabriel is making her way down the aisle
Oops - Mary was supposed to go first.
Never mind - the Angel's message will be delivered
Mary and Joseph will carry the donkey 
all the way across the chancel to Bethlehem,
The baby will be born.
The angels will tell the shepherds
who will hurry down to Bethlehem.
And the wise men will make an entrance
with their gifts, hopefully not tripping over their curtains
on the way up the chancel steps.
Someone will find the baby Jesus
and place him in the manger
just in time.
And everyone will say
"What a lovely story"
And, in all the cuteness of the re-telling,
maybe, just maybe,
we will glimpse the greatest gift ever given
and see God born in our midst today.

(To be continued)

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Mothering God

Luke 1v 42
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

Mary
God, you pick your moments
and your people.
Talk about a big fat Jewish wedding?
Well, the big, fat part came true
as I swelled with the weight of the Son of God.
People thought Joseph was a fool
But I knew differently
It took guts to stick with me
and not run from God
and the crazy plans
he'd racked
up for us.
Once he'd set his mind to it
like everything else he did,
Joseph made a great job
of caring for me
the mother of God's child. 
What other man
would be there at the birth
and not leave it to the women.
Mind you, Joseph had no choice.
No one else would speak to us
disgracing them as we had.
It wasn't really until the birth
that I missed the other women folk
Because Joseph was so loving and caring
He saw the hurt I felt
and tried to make it up to me.
And, for a time, he did.
But, when the time came
to push this fragile life
out into the world
that was when I needed another woman
One who knew what to expect
One who could talk me through the pain
and reassure me
that this was how it had to be
to bring a new life to birth.
I couldn't even blame Joseph
He hadn't planted this seed in me
But I cursed him anyway
with every profanity I knew.
He had to stay
and take it
There was no one else
to catch the Son of God
as he was delivered
onto a straw covered floor
in a place hidden from sight.
No one else to bring him to my breast
so that I could nurture God's Son
the Light of the world.
Liz Crumlish 2014

Friday, 19 December 2014

Beloved child of the light

John 1:9-12
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.

Today we bade farewell
and celebrated the life
of one of God's saints.
A child of God.
Even in the darkness of grief
or maybe even especially in that darkness
the light was visible.
The light that came into the world
in the form of a baby.
We celebrated the hope, love joy and peace of Advent
all rolled up in a life of faith
that pointed others to the light 
that cannot be extinguished. 
We gave thanks not just for the light
but for one in whom light shone
one who claimed her power
as a child of God.
And the darkness was pierced
with the light of love
that lasts forever.
Thanks be to God.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Doing Advent

John 1:5
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Good intentions
To"do"Advent properly
To avoid getting caught up in the rush
To take time to contemplate
the miracle of birth
and the miracle of love
But preparation
as an act of love
is exhausting.
Remaining alert
to all the signs 
of God born among us
is challenging
and, quite frankly,
draining.
Rooting for that glimmer of light
in all the darkness of the world
is hard work.
Proclaiming the light
is exhausting .
Advent becomes
a bone wearying
energy sapping slog.
Just like that third trimester
of pregnancy.
Hope is high
But there is still so much anxiety.
And other chores
and other concerns
are not diminished
but heightened
as the days move on.
The need for God
to get here already
trumps everything else
and puts paid
to good intentions
of waiting patiently
and preparing well.
Thankfully, God arrives
ready or not
and the calmness 
we tried to create
is forever disrupted
by God among us.
The calm
AND the storm.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Unwitting accomplices

Matthew 2:19-20
The Return from Egypt
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.”

We think of the Angels singing:"Peace on earth"
We imagine the shepherds hurrying to Bethlehem
We romanticise the notion of the stable 
complete with a little donkey
and other assorted animals keeping the baby warm.
In our mind's eye is a blissful mother
and a bursting with pride father.
We conveniently overlook the fear
and the poverty
the political unrest
the brutality of occupying forces
and the desperation of folk in that time.
And we try to do the same today.
To make Christmas idyllic
a time of indulgence and goodwill.
A season to deny reality -
be it the harsh reality of today
or of that first Christmas world.
And even when we are confronted
by inescapable inhumanity:
The murder of children
The abuse of power 
The sleaze of politics
The race to consume
Still we hope and pray for a different world.
But the Advent of hope, love, peace and joy
of which we speak and sing and for which we pray
demands that we get real
that we open our eyes
that we are affected
and move to change a world
where weapons are more valued than health care
and where oil revenue is so tightly held
that none can be spared to provide clean water for all.
Where food mountains and arms dumps grow
while people starve and are moved from their lands.
Those who sought the child's life
are still to the fore
and we have become accomplices.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Beyond the door

P

John 1:14
And the Word became flesh and lived among us

Passing the church door
on a cold and stormy night
And seeing the light and the noise
spill out across the wet cobbles
The light shimmering in the puddles
The noise carrying through the air
The doors are closed against the winter chill
and there's no one in sight
to encourage or repel
A moments hesitation
And then the thought of entering passes
Fleeing as quickly as it came
And I am assaulted again by the thought
that though it is good
to make a joyful noise
with those of like mind
Though God loves and honours our praise
God also nudges - even chases us
out of our buildings
To embrace those who pass by
Those who long for the light
and the warmth
Those who yearn to be loved,
not for what they might become
but for who they are
Cherished children of God
with whom God dwells

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