Page from the "Munich Golden Psalter", of English origin, c. 1200-1210. Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.
And all of them ate and were filled. (Matt 29.37)
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations;
he will swallow up death for ever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain.
from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert.
The God of love my shepherd is,
And he that doth me feed:
While he is mine, and I am his,
What can I want or need?
He leads me to the tender grasse,
Where I both feed and rest;
Then to the streams that gently passe:
In both I have the best.
Or if I stray, he doth convert
And bring my minde in frame:
And all this not for my desert,1
But for his holy name.
Yea, in deaths shadie black abode
Well may I walk, not fear:
For thou art with me; and thy rod
To guide, thy staff to bear.
Nay, thou dost make me sit and dine,
Ev’n in my enemies sight:
My head with oyl, my cup with wine
Runnes over day and night.
Surely thy sweet and wondrous love
Shall measure all my dayes;
And as it never shall remove,
So neither shall my praise.
29 After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain, where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.
32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?’Jesus asked them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ They said, ‘Seven, and a few small fish.’ Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828). Psalm 23 in A flat. (D706). 1820; first publ. 1832 as Op 132. The Cambridge Singers, Aurora Orchestra, cond. John Rutter (2012).
The Story of St Nicholas
There is much more at the St Nicholas Center of the Virginia Theological Seminary.
On Nicholas Day, a chance to reflect on how we spend our energy in the time before Christmas . . .
An Anxious Note to Baby Jesus, by Peter Thurston
I feel tired before it's even started.
The cards (should I bother?)
The presents (who to buy for?)
The decorations (real or artificial?)
The family . . . (enough said)
The crowds, the hassle, the weather—
Wake me up when it's all over.
I know I shouldn't feel this way
but if I'm honest,
it makes me weary just thinking about it.
Which makes me wonder,
how was it for you?
Were you weary too?
Just thinking about it?
The call, the life-long challenge, to hear God,
listen to God,
For those with ears to hear
and eyes to see,
to be God?
All begun in makeshift circumstances.
(Sorry, Lord, we were not better prepared—
some things don't change.)
A sign of things to come,
of an uphill struggle
to make your voice heard.
Uphill towards Jerusalem.
Uphill to the Mount of Olives.
Uphill to the hill of execution.
Hoping we would follow.
Hoping we would understand you,
respond to you,
welcome you then,
welcome you now.
Lord, were you tired before it even started?
Or was your love your inner energy,
the love you received your support,
the love you gave a light in the darkness,
the love you give the strength I need?
Will you help me through Advent, dear Lord, little one?
Give me the grace to greet you
without suppressed sighs of weariness.
Give me the generosity to invite you home
without thought to the inconvenience.
Give me the will to rise to your demands,
to share your love and to receive it.
It's not so much to ask, I know,
when you have faced it all—
the Advent task, the Christmas hope—
two thousand times before.
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life:
grant us to perfectly know your Son Jesus Christ
as the way, the truth and the life, and that,
following in the footsteps of friends like Nicholas
who loved the poor, the weak and the young,
and who gave what he had to enrich those who had but little,
we may faithfully walk in the way that leads to eternal life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.