not too much

Tuesday 13 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)

Zephaniah 3.1-13 | Psalm 34:15-22 | Matthew 21.28-32 |


Sadao Watanabe, Japan, Nativity, 1960s? Stencil print on momigami paper.

Nativity figure speaks
Jeanne Murray Walker

I felt it, riding through the afternoon—
the nights are getting shorter and it's cold
and then the baby shifted in my womb
and the innkeeper sent us to his sandy field.
I did what I was made to do. And now
who knows what else is possible? God's breath
moves against the soft nose of the cow.

The moon shines on this shed and on the path
where you lean, watching us. Who are you?
I am the round yon virgin of your song.
You are the sky the light is passing through,
and you are the iron moonlight. You're sweet fresh-
smelling hay. You're Bethlehem, the tall kings.
Reach out, release us from this wooden crèche.

The Christian Century, 124.25 Dec 11 2007, p 8.

Wojciech Kilar (Poland, 1932-2013). Gloria in Excelsis Deo (1993). Cracow Philharmonic Chorus and Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, cond. Antoni Wit, 2005.

Prayer

Saving God, who came to earth for us, we praise you for your everlasting love, your endless patience, and for the greatest gift you could possibly give to us, the possibility of Salvation through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

 

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Reflection

You know how every year you say, 'This year I'm going to get Christmas sorted out. I'll have the cards written by December the first and I'll work our properly what we can afford and do the presents in time, and I'll know exactly how many people are coming for meals and when, and …' all the rest of it. Lurking somewhere in our minds is the idea of the Perfect Christmas (probably with snow, only not the kind that closes down airports and messes up our travel plans). And every year, mysteriously, all our plans seem to evaporate and it's the usual mess, with all the last minute panic. There'll be a good few people concerned just now about what they can afford for a start.

Yet it's odd in a way, this business of Perfect Christmasses. The story of the first Christmas is the story of a series of completely unplanned, messy events—a surprise pregnancy, an unexpected journey that's got to be made, a complete muddle over the hotel accommodation when you get there … Not exactly a perfect holiday.

But it tells us something really vital. We try to plan all this stuff and stay in charge, and too often (especially with advertisers singing in our ears the whole time) we think that unless we can cook the perfect dinner, plan the perfect wedding, organise the perfect Christmas, we somehow don't really count or we can't hold our heads up.

But in the complete mess of the first Christmas, God says, 'Don't worry—I'm not going to wait until you've got everything sorted out perfectly before I get involved with you. I'm already there for you in the middle of it all, and if you just let yourself lean on me a bit instead of trying to make yourself and everything around you perfect by your own efforts, everyone will feel a little more of my love flowing'.

I'm never sure whether to wish anyone a peaceful Christmas, because it hardly ever is. But I can wish you joy in the midst of the mess, and every blessing from the God of ordinary, untidy, surprising things.
—Rowan Williams. Pause for Thought, 15 December 2011, BBC Radio 2.


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