Reveal among us the light of your presence, that we may behold your power and glory.
Readings (Click the links to see the readings)
Nativity, Ivory, Byzantine 10th century. Louvre, Paris.
The eyes of the beasts shine into my own.
Dialogue, 19.4 Wint 1986, p 121.
We are not grains of sand upon the shore
Sergei Rachmaninov. "Bogoroditse Dyevo" from Vsenoshchnoe bdenie Op. 37, sung by VOCES8:
Rejoice, O virgin mother of God,
'Joseph got up, and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt' (Matthew 2.14).
As local conflicts throughout the world multiply, the risk and the reality of millions of displaced persons becomes more and more a part of the global challenge we all face.…
Jesus and his family knew this tragedy of homelessness. And many have meditated on the fact that the very event of God coming among us as a human being can be understood as God himself being 'displaced', being a wanderer far from home—at risk, living in the midst of people at risk. The indescribable gift he gives at Christmas is the gift of making himself for ever at home with a human race that is constantly tempted to betray and abandon him. When the writer to the Hebrews speaks of discipleship, he uses the language of going 'outside the gate' to where Jesus suffers, and reminds his readers that they do not have a permanent city on earth to live in (Hebrews 13.12-14). Our following Jesus means following him beyond the frontier of our comfort, following him to where we shall meet other exiles, others who are homeless and rejected.
Spiritually, we must prepare ourselves for the journey, stripping away the trivial and comfortable habits that all of us develop in our practice of faith, and renewing our commitment to follow the Word Incarnate. And then we must work this out in action—in our own willingness to be alongside the displaced, to work devotedly with all who defend the rights and dignities of those without land or livelihood, and to speak for them and serve them in whatever way we can. Our churches should not be places where we retreat into the relief and safety of being with people who are just like ourselves. They should be places where we meet the 'divine exile' who invites us to follow him in bringing hope to the displaced and disinherited—where we learn something of his own liberty to be at the service of all in need and pain.
May God lead us out beyond the gates of our comfort to be with Jesus; and may he keep us always awake to see the realities of disorder and suffering around us. To all who share in the oversight and service of God's pilgrim people, journeying towards the heavenly Jerusalem, I wish the blessing of the Incarnate Lord, in the fellowship of his Holy Spirit.