not too much

Sunday 11 December

Reveal among us the light of your presence, that we may behold your power and glory.

Readings (Click the links to see the readings)

Isaiah 35.1-10 | Psalm 146 | James 5.7-10 | Matthew 11.2-11 |

The message
"De Boodschap van Maria", tr. from Dutch.

The message came to a maiden young;
The angel stood beside her,
In shining robes and with golden tongue,
He told what should betide her:
The maid was lost in wonder—
    Her world was rent asunder—
    Ah! how could she
    Christ's mother be
    By God's most high decree!

No greater news could a messenger bring:
For 'twas from that young mother
He came, who walked on the earth as a king,
And yet was all men's brother:
    His truth has spread like leaven,
    Twill marry earth to heaven,
          Till all agree
          In charity
          To dwell from sea to sea.

He came, God's Word to the world here below;
And round him there did gather
A band who found that this Teacher to know
Was e'en to know the Father:
    He healed the sick who sought him,
    Forgave the foes who fought him;
            Beside the Sea
            Of Galilee
            He set the nations free

Prayer

God of hope, who brought love into this world,
be the love that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought peace into this world,
be the peace that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought joy into this world,
be the joy that dwells between us.
God of hope, the rock we stand upon,
be the centre, the focus of our lives
always, and particularly this Advent time.

logo1111 December is UN International Mountain Day.


James B. Janknegt, USA, Nativity, 1995.


Rory Cooney. Canticle of the Turning, based on the Magnificat (Song of Mary). Melody: Irish tune "Star of the County Down" (c. 1698-1720). Sung by Gary Daigle, Rory Cooney and Theresa Donohoo from the album "Safety Harbor".

Reflection

Christmas. God has always been communicating with humanity, in any number of ways; but what we need from God is more than just information. The climax of the story is the sending of a Son: when all has been said and done on the level of information what still needs to be made clear to us is that the point of it all is relationship. God speaks at last through a Son, so that we can grasp the fact that really knowing God, really responding to his Word of promise and life, is a matter of relationship. It's becoming God's child. And the consequence is that we ourselves learn to speak and act in such a way that others want to share that relationship.…

Relationship is the new thing at Christmas, the new possibility of being related to God as Jesus was and is. But here's the catch and the challenge. To come into this glorious future is to learn how to be dependent on God. And that word tends to have a chilly feel for us, especially us who are proudly independent moderns. We speak of 'dependent' characters with pity and concern; we think of 'dependency' on drugs and alcohol; we worry about the 'dependent' mind set that can be created by handouts to the destitute. In other words, we think of dependency as something passive and less than free.

But let's turn this round for a moment. If we think of being dependent on the air we breathe, or the food we eat, things look different. Even more if we remind ourselves that we depend on our parents for learning how to speak and act and above all how to love. There is a dependence that is about simply receiving what we need to live; there is a dependence that is about how we learn and grow. And part of our human problem is that we mix up this entirely appropriate and lifegiving dependency with the passivity that can enslave us. In seeking (quite rightly) trying to avoid passivity we can get trapped in the fantasy that we don't need to receive and to learn.

Which is why it matters that the letter to the Hebrews portrays the Son in the way it does—radiant, creative, overflowing with life and intelligence. The Son is all these things because he is dependent, because he receives his life from the Father. And when we finally grow up in to the fullness of his life, we shall, like him, be gladly and unashamedly dependent—open to receiving all God has to give, open to learn all he has to teach. This is a 'dependency' that is utterly creative and the very opposite of passive. It is a matter ofbeing aligned with the freest activity we can imagine, God's eternal love, flowing through us.
—Rowan Williams, Christmas Sermon, 2009.

May the Lord, when he comes, find us watching and waiting. Amen.