Tag Archive: Luke 2


Annunciation

Go to a maternity ward,
To the birthing room
To the clinic,
To childless
To the worried parents to be
To the devastated parents not-to-be
To the nursery
To the operating room
To the memorial

And then write a poem about the annunciation
About the physical reality of Mary being pregnant
With the Word-made-flesh.

Unless you have wondered at human-being-flesh
How can you begin to marvel at God-taking-flesh?

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It came upon the midnight clear

The third verse strikes me as most poignant including the line “Man at war with man”. There seems to me to always be some new conflict, or a flaring up of an old one, around Christmas time despite the angels song of “Peace and goodwill”.

Let’s hope more people do take time to stop and hear the angels’ song.

IT CAME UPON THE MIDNIGHT CLEAR

It came upon the midnight clear
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold:
‘Peace on the earth, goodwill to men
From heaven’s all gracious King!’
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
 
Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.
 
Yet with woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long,
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.
 
For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And all the world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.
 
Edmund Hamilton Sears (1810-1876)

When the equinox came and went, when the days became shorter than the nights, when the sun had to work hard to shine through the fog, when the clocks went back and night came on even earlier; I said (very quietly) to myself, “Well, at least there is Christmas to look forward to.”

I suppose I do sometimes give the impression that I am not keen when we start talking about Christmas. It is true that I do not like celebrating it early. Think of it this way: when I have my own birthday I do like to celebrate it on the day (or as near as is practicable) but not several times over four weeks in advance. However, I do understand the need to prepare for Christmas in good time and that not everything will fit into 24th and 25th December.

Carols need to be practised, decorations prepared, food made or ordered specially, perhaps even a present two to get sorted. Then there is the time we spend thinking about Jesus and the fact that we are celebrating God coming to us, not as a warrior, angel or king, but as a vulnerable baby. Christmas is a special time that many of us are looking forward to

Some people, though, have good reason not to look forward to Christmas. Budgets are as tight as ever and to spend extra on special food, decorations or presents, is just not an option for some people. Others will have lost someone dear to them this year and this will be the first Christmas they spend without them. Meanwhile some people find that they have to work over Christmas and their family time gets lost in the way. There are people in the armed forces overseas separated from the ones they love. Then there are the hungry and homeless perhaps overseas but some will make their way to places like the Hope centre. And yet others will find themselves not at home but in hospital whether through accident or illness.

So although I am looking forward to Christmas (and hope you are too), let’s spare a thought for those who are not.

Seeing light

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John chapter 8 verse 12)

When we did science at junior school, one of my favourite topics was ‘Light’. As a teacher, one of the first things I wanted to find out was what pupils already knew, and also to introduce some vocabulary for them to learn. So between us we thought of all sorts of words associated with light: colour, light, dark, shine, sparkle, torch, lamp, see, street light, traffic lights, etc, etc. You could probably come up with more examples.

Of course, what light means to us does not stop at lessons in school. For instance, there is spectroscopy which uses the different wavelengths of light (i.e. colours) to show what something is made from. Then there are lasers which can burn, heal and also make incredibly accurate measurements. You can find lasers in hospitals, in home computers and DVD players. They are also used by astronomers to measure accurately how far away the moon is. Light is also the fastest thing in the universe that we know of.

Then again, we use the word metaphorically when we say that someone has “seen the light” – they have a sudden realisation of an important truth. (Think of the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus.) Or we might say that someone is enlightened, meaning that they understand how the world works and are not prone to superstition.

Light in one way or another is essential to our lives.

Among other things, during this liturgical season of Epiphany, we think of Jesus as “the light of the world” (John chapter 8 verse 12) and as “a light to the Gentiles (foreigners)” (Luke chapter 2 verse 32). Thinking about it, to say that Jesus is “the Light” is actually quite a big claim – when you start to think about what light can do and what light represents:

Jesus helps us in our darkness

Jesus helps us to see and to understand how things really are.

Jesus leads us away from superstition and towards truth.

Jesus is for everybody we know and for everybody we do not know.

Jesus is not just for those who call themselves Christians but is for the whole world.

May we all know the light of Christ in our lives.

Christmas greetings

…he gave me his presence.

Which, you might say, is the true meaning of Christmas: a celebration of the fact that God is here. At the moment he is here in the middle of whatever we are going through and that may be messy and bad as much as good and hopeful. Through that first Christmas, God shares what it is to be a human being in his son Jesus Christ: birth is a risky business at the best of times. However, then in Bethlehem there were so few facilities available to Mary and Joseph that Jesus ended up in an animal’s feeding trough – a strange sight indeed.

“Most surprising of all, is the discivery that the one for whom we wait has been present all along” (Paula Gooder)

Whatever kind of Christmas you are having, my hope and prayer for you is that you have some sense that God is with you in it.

Happy Christmas!

A prayer from “Common Worship” for Christmas Day

Lord Jesus Christ, your birth at Bethlehem draws us to kneel in wonder at heaven touching earth. Accept our heartfelt praise as we worship you, our Saviour and our eternal God. Amen. (Additional Collect)

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