Friday, 26 December 2014

On the 2nd Day of Christmas ...

I can't help feeling there is something somewhat sad about the fact that in Birmingham city centre Christmas was pretty much already over before it had even really begun, Having been trying to cultivate an artificial Christmassy-feel from long before anyone in their right mind should have wanted to be thinking about Christmas; by the time it actually arrived, there was a sense it was already all over. With the dismantling of the Christmas markets at the beginning of the week, and preparations for boxing day sales well under way before the end of Wednesday, it seems we may have forgotten what all this build up was actually for ... 

But in my book it is still very definitely Christmas... in fact, it's only just begun! So here it is, this year's Christmas poem, (with thanks to my students at  St Chad's Sanctuary for the inspiration).

A scared and tired father
A woman pregnant and in pain
An uncertain future for an unborn child
Who’ll face anger, exclusion, and disdain

Behind a census of statistics
We still hide the human face
Of a desperation that dares to dream -
That begs of another, grace.

But that one who said he had nothing,
There’s nothing here left to give
Was it in putting a face to a number he knew
You deserved not just to survive but to live?

And when he stretched an open hand
Did God’s kingdom touch this earth?
And is this still an incarnation moment
When we dare believe in the other’s worth?

When we smile ‘come in and welcome’
To those whose lives are tattered and torn
In these the tiniest glimmers of hope – 
Each day anew the Messiah is born.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Remembering Advent

Although Birmingham city centre would have you believe that Christmas has already arrived, we are currently in the much-overlooked season of advent, and my latest post is in honour of a season in danger of being squeezed out of our calendars by the premature celebration of Christmas

The song sung by Zachariah at the birth of his son John the Baptist talks of this baby as a symbol of hope and a foreteller of the coming of the kingdom. It is perhaps a song we could sing at the birth of every child. The following reflection is based on his words in Luke 1:68-79.

68 ‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David

Blessed be God
Coming among us
Dwelling with us
Dwelling in us

We are redeemed and set free
A freedom which calls for action
A freedom that inspires new hope
A freedom lived and shared
The freedom of love

70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us – 72 to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,

Blessed be God
Who remembers the forgotten
Who remains with the abandoned
From all time
For all time
Eternity encompassing today

Rescuing us from our enemies
Giving us energy in the face of apathy
Giving us purpose in the midst of emptiness
Giving us life in all its fullness

Rescued and called
To use our love to care for the loveless
And our voice to speak for the voiceless

and to enable us to serve him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Called to have no fear
No fear of condemnation and criticism
No fear of standing up and standing out
Perfect God, perfect love
Drives out all fear

The knowledge we are loved
This is our holiness
To go and share that love
This is our righteousness
To stand with the unloved and the unlovely and the seemingly unlovable
This is our service

76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,

And you, the little children,
Prophets of God and messengers of the Kingdom
Your innocence prepares the way of the Lord
His light shines in you

In your curiosity and wonder at the world
In your trusting and in your hope
In your joy and the delight of being alive

77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,

Give us knowledge of our salvation,
The opening wide of a kingdom where all are welcome,
A kingdom for such as these

In your suffering we see our sin
In war we have damaged your trusting love
In hunger we have hidden your inquisitive wonder
In poverty we have trampled on your joyful hope

Your tears call us to repentance,
And new life.

78 because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.

New life lit up by the faithful love of our God
Coming from on high
Dwelling with the humble
Dwelling alongside the forgotten ones
Dwelling in the children

Giving light
The light of a smile
The light of love
Calling us from darkness

From despondency and despair
From apathy and inactivity
From comfort and continuity

To walk in the light of a new way of peace