Day Seven — Sunday 31 December 2017

The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. O come, let us worship. Alleluia

Readings

First Sunday after Christmas
Isaiah 61.10-62.3 | Psalm 148 | Galatians 4.4-7

New Year's Eve Ecclesiastes 3.1-13 | Psalm 46 or Psalm 62 | James 3.13-18 | Luke 12.35-40 |

Vigil

Parker Fitzgerald (USA, contemporary) Madonna and Child.

Reflection

Christmas lends itself so easily to metaphor and sentiment. We need our metaphors, and sentiment is the grease without which our human machinery would break down and wear out, but Christmas does not represent a sentiment, an idea, or even a feeling about God. Christmas belongs to those who recognize not the sense of the holidays but the real presence of Cod in their lives and in their world, not simply once upon a time long ago and far away but here and now, inhabiting our hearts and struggling with us against the tangible realities that surround us. The world of little Bethlehem was real, Caesar Augustus was real, Herod was real, taxation was real, death and slaughter were real, despair was real and normal; and in the midst of all of this God had to be made real, and was made real not in an ideal but in the flesh, for that is what the Incarnation was and is, and that is why we bow before its presence. "God with us," for that is what Emmanuel means, is not just a translation of a Hebrew name but a translation of the living, loving purpose of God to be present in and among his creation. God does not abandon that which he makes; he becomes one with us that we may become one with him.
— Peter J. Gomes, Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living, (New York: Avon, 1998), 24.

Prayer

God of all time,
who makes all things new,
we bring before you the year now ending.
For life full and good,
for opportunities recognized and taken,
for love known and shared,
we thank You.
Where we have fallen short,
forgive us.
When we worry over what is past,
free us.
As we begin again
and take our first few steps into the future,
where nothing is safe and certain,
except you,
we ask for the courage of the wise men
who simply went and followed a star.
We ask for their wisdom,
in choosing to pursue the deepest truth,
not knowing where they would be led
In the year to come, God of all time,
be our help and company.
Hold our hands as we journey onwards
and may your dream of shalom,
where all will be at Peace,
be our guiding star.
—Francis Brienen

Herbert Howells (1892-1983). A Spotless Rose. The Sixteen.

May the Lord, who has called out of darkness into his marvellous light, bless us and fill us with peace. Amen.