not too much

Thursday 22 December

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

Antiphon
O Rex Gentium

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.
(cf Isaiah 28.16; Ephesians 2.14)

Readings (Click the links to see the readings)

Isaiah 7.10-16 | Psalm 80.1-7, 17-19 | Romans 1.1-17 | Matthew 1.18-25 |

Conditions for Christmas
Edward M. Ketcham

If by some peculiar change
In the chemistry of the human mind
The fables and our total despair
Our evil and its garment of good deeds
Should be muted in tone and intensity,
Allowing the sharp cry of this infant
To enter our conscious self,
We would believe and live.

If the pungent odor of the stable
Should come shimmering into the sanctuary,
Or by some insane genius of faith
The service be held in a cow barn
So that this infant of the galaxies
Could be found in our own nursery
And received with no less affection,
We would believe and live.

If our tattered minds of self-concern
Should journey to the fringe of extragalactic nebulae
Or meditate on Andromeda and Messier 81,
And loose themselves in concentration,
To travel through infinite stars
A million million light years away
Till space and time collapse around our flight,
We would believe and live.

Believing, we might understand
This cosmic scene of parents, child and star,
Be found and thereby find the faith
That encompasses our creation.

Christianity and Crisis, 26.21, 12 Dec 1966, p. 277

Prayer

You gave your all to the world
In the bleakness of that stable
Love was born that day
Pure love
Undiluted
Poured out for all
Who call on Your name
Such Grace
Undeserved
Deserves a response
In the life that we lead
Forgive our ingratitude
After all you have done
Draw us to your Word
Give us a new song to sing
That will resonate throughout this world
And begin with us today. Amen


Nativity. Stained glass. Canterbury Cathedral

 

Ah-Rang Lee. O Rex gentium, Europa Chor Akademie, dir. Joshard Daus.

 

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2014–2024 is the United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All.

Reflection

Christmas gives us a story to listen to. It gives us a sense that what matters most deeply to us matters to God too. And it gives us a moment of stillness in a more and more feverish environment.

It gives us a story. If you go to a carol service, you'll notice that it isn't just about the story of Jesus' birth. It starts right back at the beginning of human history and tells us that everything started well and then everything went wrong, and we got so tangled in habits and attitudes that trapped us and damaged us that we couldn't get out again.

So the question stares us in the face—'Is this your story?' Did you start well and then find yourself snarled up in things that drain your life and energy?'

There won't be many people for whom that doesn't ring a bell or two. And then the story goes on to say something quite strange and surprising. God steps in to sort it all out. But he doesn't step in like Superman, he doesn't even send a master plan down from heaven. He introduces into the situation something completely new—a new life; a human baby, helpless and needy like all babies.

And it's by that introducing of something new that change begins to happen. Like dropping a tiny bit of colouring into a glass of clear water, it starts to affect the whole glassful. The Christmas story doesn't try to explain how it works. It just says, 'Now that this story, Jesus' story, has started, nothing will be the same again.'

So we're not being asked to sign up to a grand theory—just to imagine that the world might have changed. And most of us can manage that for a moment or two. Christmas lets us hold on to that for just a bit longer.
—Rowan Williams. The Times, 24th December 2008


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