Advent Quiet Day: Pregnant with Expectation

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, At this time we prepare to be caught up in the dance towards the redemption and renewal of all things, on earth, in heaven and under the earth. Help us to cast aside our earthly concerns and to look to the dawn that is coming. Be with us in our stillness and our quietness today, be with us in our praying and our activity, be with us in the breaking of the bread; in the name of the one who was, who is and ever shall be, Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen

Introduction

1488184_497143043734007_628216792_nYou might be in one of two conditions at the moment:

  • Your brain filled with a million lists, notes, spreadsheets, plans and so on for the impending Christmas season; deluged by calendar events for carol services and assemblies, nativity services and at-home invitations
  • Or you might just be relieved that this is no longer your problem – that mantle, that responsibility has passed to another and all you have to do is smugly (or benignly, take your pick) watching from the choir stall, giving thanks that it’s not you any more.

Alternatively, you may be just making lists for the home: the large family meals, the travel plans, the gift lists.

From Remembrance Sunday onwards, we seem to be preoccupied with Christmas, and to an extent quite rightly so; but I want us to pause in our frantic preparations, to put them on hold and consider the season which is intended to help us focus on that key Christian Festival: Advent

keeping christmas and advent separate

Not for the first time my friends will I be desperately trying to “keep Christmas out of Advent” but in doing so, it only serves to put greater emphasis on Christmas: it would be wrong therefore to entirely ignore the festival that the season points so inexorably towards. But this is not a festival of glittery, tinselly lights, but a deep and profound mystery around which the whole world revolves: the mystery of the Incarnation

Both Christmas and Easter are preceded by penitential seasons so as emphasise the contrast: a counterpoint to turn mourning into dancing, to reach bathos from pathos, a zenith from a nadir. A season of penitence affords us the opportunity to prepare spiritually and reflect. In many ways, this seems to be the exact opposite of the preparation which many of us seem to be engaging with at this time: rather than the compiling of lists, true spiritual preparation should be about the emptying of self and the leaving of tasks: a decompilation in effect.

So today, my friends, I propose an opportunity for reflection and quiet; prompted perhaps by some words of mine and a few key poems of others: two shortish talks which seek to focus on clearing the way for the Lord. There will also be some visuals, not least because sometimes I find that images speak louder than words and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that people expect of me. If images do not speak to you, then I suggest you simply close your eyes and focus on the poems. I have chosen to use poetry as the key medium for these addresses because it strikes me that poems are as much about the gaps as the words, the pauses as the talking, the white space as much as the text, and it in those apparently null spaces that God may be found to be present. In each of the stretches of silence you are free to do what you wish: to meditate on my suggestions, to pray, to read the Scriptures or finish the novel you haven’t had time to polish off yet, or even to catch up on some well-needed sleep! All of this is good: use this space and time as you need. In the quiet time, if you would benefit from a spiritual chat or the sacrament of reconciliation, then I am also available for those ministries: it’s what I am here for.

At the end of the day we will gather around the altar to meet with the Lord in his holy sacraments; although today is usually given over to Francis Xavier, I propose that we keep the Advent theme and celebrate a Feria of Advent so that we might dwell on him as we watch and wait for the Incarnation. The full timetable is available.

Is that okay?

Talk One: The Incarnation

Poem: BC:AD by UA Fanthorpe

This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future’s
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.

This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.

This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.

And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect

Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.

An Infant School Headteacher once declared to me that she knew exactly when Christmas began: in the eyes of her 5,6 & 7 year-olds, it was the publication of the Argos Christmas Catalogue which sparked on the Tsunami of excitement in the hearts (and wiggly bottoms) of her small charges.

And yet, the inexorable journey towards the Nativity does come early: a child does not spring from the womb ready assembled and the coming of the Messiah was long fortold: some would argue from the first breath of creation, some from the portents of the prophets, especially some of the Isaiahs, but for us most especially, the Advent of the Lord begins with the Annunciation

Luke 1:26-38 (NRSV)

The annunciation of Jesus’ birth

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Unlike the Gospel of Mark, where Jesus springs into ministry a fully formed and ready-to-call-us-to-repentance adult, the signs and portents of the coming of the Messiah take time to come. John would take us right back to be beginning, even though he does not dwell at all on the mechanics of the Incarnation: Word to Flesh: you make the connection. Whereas Matthew speaks of genealogies and then dreams, Luke instead recalls an encounter with the word of God: the message of an angel and an encounter which appears to leave more issues up in the air (how exactly will this go down with Joseph?) than are resolved: it’s a good job that Nothing is Impossible with God because there appears to be a few loose ends left with Mary to deal with…

In God’s good time, a Messiah begins to be formed in the womb. With Our Lady’s yes, a chain of events long foretold are set into motion and a new chapter, a whole new testament is begun. Slowly.

Like the coming of the Messiah, every child takes time to be formed, to be shaped like a pot in the potter’s hand (Jeremiah 18:4,6) and during the pregnancy there are first subtle and then clear signs of momentous change.

Clearly, I have never had first hand experience of pregnancy (and certainly not my wife reminds me of childbirth) but I have, praise God, had the opportunity to witness it, closely, and three times have seen that everyday miracle in our lives. The excitement and fear that sensing a child moving in the womb brings is almost indescribable: the realisation that someone is taking shape within our very midst and even the reality of an ultrasound image does not encapsulate the true excitement of a hand placed on a swelling belly and the sensation of new life moving within.

That it must take time is significant. How often we would wish to have our Christmas straight away, to have our Salvation guaranteed immediately, to gain the Father’s pleasure with no effort on our part and yet the one thing our faith demonstrates is the need for patience and a reliance on God’s good time.

So often our lives are governed by the clock: time as a series of events – unyielding, relentless, the march of time as a scientific process, linear and consecutive. Chronos from which we get the word chronological, and yet God’s time, his own good time is not linear, it is more concerned with the right time (cf John 2:4 “My hour has not yet come” and later John 17:1 “Father, the hour has come”). This is Kairos – the right time.

The point where the Chronos and the Kairos (our time, and the right time) intersect has (so far) only been twice in the history of the world

graph of time

and the space which dwells between them is the Incarnation. These two loops may intersect again, and when they do, the circles will be complete. The right time and our time will once again be united and heaven and earth will come together in the New Jerusalem when he returns in Glory

Poem: Christmas Traffic UA Fanthorpe

Three, two, one, liftoff
Signals Mission Control. And off they go
To the dark parts of the planets
In their pressurised spacesuits,
Cocooned in technology, the astronauts.
Mission control whispers in someone’s ear.
Yes, she says, I will. And in due time
A different traveller makes a quieter journey,
Arriving hungry, naked, but true to instructions,
Docking on Earth, taking the one small step.

A different traveller makes a quieter journey. Hidden from our sight in Our Womb and not bursting forth like the bursting from a tomb, but the slow and dangerous passage from womb to outside world: the most dangerous journey any of us will take is those six inches. Childbirth does not – I am clear about this – happen at the click of fingers, but takes time and no small degree of effort: due time, right time.

There is a right, a kairos time, which we cannot influence or control: it is not by our skill or artifice that this will happen.

Kairos: the right time is an innate sense: not the completion of a checklist: the right time to pass a ball, to connect in a golf swing, to hit a tennis ball is less about science (although admittedly a lot of physics is involved) but more about a sportsman sensing when the apropos moment has come.

God is, of course, the ultimate sportsman: he knows the sweetspot, the right moment for maximum effect, even if the shot deludes the opponent into thinking it was an error – a forced error, when really it is a trap in order to achieve the perfect winning shot.

At the risk of being one of those annoying clerics who can’t mention Christmas without also talking about Easter, I think this masterly use of the Kairos is key: My view of the Cross is that it is victory and not defeat – the enemy might have thought at (in the words of the Rolling Stones) his moment of doubt and pain Christ had been vanquished, but the prophetic words “It is finished” (not I am finished, but IT is finished, it is completed, it is sorted John 19:30)showed that through the resurrection, sin and death had been overcome – victory from the jaws of defeat, and this can only come through the cross and the cross can only come through the Incarnation and we can only get to the Incarnation through Advent… and we’re back to the beginning again.

There is a Bishop in the Church of England who tells this story of his Curacy:

It was in Stepney, I believe and his Training Incumbent was one of those priests much given to the… er… theatrical. On Christmas Eve night, as the faithful are gathered in silent prayer before the crib, the vicar appears at the door, strides to the crib and rips off the star above the stable scene. Casting it to the floor, he takes a Cross and dramatically nails it in the star’s place: thud, thud, thud. When the Cross is over the scene he turns to those gathered there and declares in his most dramatic voice “Remember why he came…” and marches off. As he passes the two little old ladies at the back, one says quite loudly to the other:

“See, he always does that, he always bloody ruins Christmas”

But the Cross does not ruin Christmas, but rather it completes it, and each event is a vindication of the other: without Christmas there could be no Easter, without Easter, Christmas would have no point.

Poem: The Wise Men and the Star UA Fanthorpe

The proper place for stars is in the sky
Lighting the whole world,but negotiating only
With the highly qualified – master mariners, astro-physicists,
Professionals like ourselves.

This one came unscheduled, nudged us roughly
Out of routine, led us a wild – goose chase,
And perching here, above unspeakable rafters,
Common as a starling on a washing line,
Whistles to every callow Dick and Harry,
Idlling amazed around : OK, pals, I’ve done my bit.
Over to you, now, Earth.

The more we understand the size, the scope, the nature of the universe, the more amazing it seems to me. The greater the scale, the more I am personally reminded of the awesomeness of God. For me, further scientific discovery does not diminish God (for I have never felt the need for a hardcore science / religion division) but enhances our understanding of Him: the complex the atoms and quarks, the more amazing God seems to me. Am I alone in this perception or must it be so black or white, science or religion, x or y, Dawkins or Jesus? The more we understand about evolution, the correct scripture in the shape of the first creation story (Genesis 1:1-2:2) seems to be; leaving the older, more mysterious, symbolic creation narrative to speak less of literal truth and more of a deeper meaning and significance

The most outrageous idea in all the philosophy of religion is the Incarnation: a new departure from most religious narratives. For the most part there was God: the creator – aloof, remote and inaccessible and there were his messengers (Angels), spokespeople (Prophets), even progeny (the Roman or Greek Pantheon, for example); but the idea that God himself would step into his created world is an outrageous idea which I suspect over 2000 years has lost none of its import, but much of its impact.

Before the Incarnation, God was out there, and after it, he is here.

The literal meaning of Incarnation draws from the word carne – think chili con carne – carne meat – flesh – literally incarnation = en-flesh-ment; the wrapping of God in a cloak of meat, but more than that – the melding of two natures into one, God and Human in a single form – never before attempted, never after repeated.

For God to willingly take on our human form is the most significant and important point of this season, for it must come at a cost, a vulnerability; not just as a helpless child, but as an equality helpless blob of humanity.

Phillipians 2:5-11 (the Kenotic Hymn) NRSV

5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death —
even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

So often this hymn from Scripture (no less poetic, though) is thought of as referring to the Cross alone, but I want us to pause for a moment and look a little closer.

Verse 7 speaks of emptying himself, made into the likeness of men and is a start contrast with the awesome, cosmic power of God which he rightfully held.

www.scripture4all.org OnlineInterlinear NTpdf phi2.pdf

Ekenōsen from which the title of the hymn comes, is more than just assuming human form, but is literally and symbolically a pouring out, an emptying of the nature of God into this small, weak, porous vessel: humanity.

It is an act of love which cannot be measured in human terms, for like all true love it is about the giving up of self for the need and the edification of the other. Recently a wonderful article was posted “Marriage isn’t for you”  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/seth-adam-smith/marriage-isnt-for-you_b_4209837.html

Marriage Isn't for You   Seth Adam Smith

The author realises that marriage is not about himself, his selfish desires or his own needs, but about the needs of the love of his life: to be committed in love means to be committed to that relationship. In the act of Incarnation, for the sake of this relationship: one-sided though it often is, with humanity’s lack of commitment and infidelity in the partnership, the constant complaining and the unrealistic expectations, God has chosen to empty himself out for the sake of our relationship – a one-sided act of love

The last poem I want to share with you before our silent time is a favourite and very obscure one

Sharon’s Christmas Prayer

She was five,
sure of the facts,
and recited them
with slow solemnity
convinced every word
was revelation.
She said

they were so poor
they had only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
to eat
and they went a long way from home
without getting lost. The lady rode
a donkey, the man walked, and the baby
was inside the lady.
They had to stay in a stable
with an ox and an ass (hee-hee)
but the Three Rich Men found them
because a star lited the roof
Shepherds came and you could
pet the sheep but not feed them.
Then the baby was borned.
And do you know who he was?

Her quarter eyes inflated
to silver dollars,

The baby was God.

And she jumped in the air
whirled round, dove into the sofa
and buried her head under the cushion
which is the only proper response
to the Good News of the Incarnation.

John Shea, The Hour of the Unexpected, 1977

“…which is the only proper response to the Good News of the Incarnation”

The questions I invite you to meditate on is this:

  • Ignoring those tired feelings you might be having at the moment, is Sharon’s response to the Good News of the Incarnation recognisable in your life, work and ministry?
  • What things might you have to let go in order to properly experience such a response?
  • Will Christmas still happen if you allow it to?
  • How might this Advent afford you the opportunity to find space and time: as the star said “Earth – it’s up to you now”

Talk Two: The Next Advent

“Jesus is coming, Look Busy” say the T-Shirts

Jesus is Coming

But in the text from last Sunday reminded us (NRSV)

Matthew 24: 36-44

Jesus said: “No-one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father…Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

On the web there is a page which is called The Rapture Index which collates all the signs and portents of the end of days as predicted by various little gobbets of Scripture which, let’s face it, is mostly the Revelation to S. John the Divine. When the index reaches 100 then hold onto your hats, Jesus is on his way. The index is currently…

The Rapture Index

185!…and has been for many years now!

The response we usually make to that is that “Oh well, you can’t simply count up these things and expect him to come on demand or when the paperwork is complete”, because “you know not the day or the hour”

And yet, how we love to seek to force that issue. It has been said that some of the reasons for the USAs aggressively pro-Zionist stance in Middle Eastern politics is the desire of a body of American Evangelicals to precipitate the second coming of Christ by making things worse!

It’s as if the Kairos time was of our making. And we know what the answer to that is…

Advent is not just about the birth of Jesus the Messiah, but also about the New Advent, the end of days, the second coming of Christ in the Parousia. It is no mistake that some many of our favourite hymns of this season speak more powerfully of his return than his first appearance:

Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.

There are a lot of confusing images surrounding the return of Christ in glory, but I find that happens whenever we try to use human words to encapsulate the Glory of God: words are not enough and it is no wonder that the images and metaphors employed by John the Divine (much like Daniel before him) appear garbled, elliptical and seriously hallucinogenic.

The nature of these visions should not alarm us, neither should they be taken at absolute face-value, but as heavily layered metaphor they are rich in essential sacramental imagery which should both encourage and challenge us; not just for the end times, when two of us will be frothing cappuchino and one will be taken, but for now, and most importantly what we do in the meantime.

Not the Millennium: UA Fanthorpe

Wise Men are busy being computer literate.

There should be a law against confusing
Religion with mathematics.
There was a baby. Born where ?
And when ? The sources mention
Massacres, prophecies, stars;
They tell a good story, but they don’t agree.

So we celebrate at the wrong midnight.
Does it matter ? Only dull science expects
An accurate audit. The economy of heaven
Looks for fiestas and fireworks every day,
Every day.
Be realistic, says heaven :
Expect a miracle.

Ursula Fanthorpe’s poem (like many of the others we have encountered today) manage to merge the today with the past, and here the science of modern life and the realities of ancient history are counterpointed.

Karen Armstrong in the Case for God reminds us of the relationship between fact and myth:

“In most pre-modern cultures there were two recognised ways of thinking, speaking and acquiring knowledge. The Greeks called them mythos and logos. Both were essential and neither was considered superior to the other … each had its own sphere of competence and it was considered unwise to mix the two.

Logos equates with ‘reason’ and enabled people to function effectively in the world. It had therefore to correlate with the tangible reality around us. Logos was therefore essential to our human survival.

… but it had its limitations: it could not assuage human grief or find ultimate meaning in life’s struggles. For that, people turned to mythos or ‘myth’ … Today we live in a society of scientific logos and mythos has fallen into disrepute. In popular parlance, a myth is something which is not true. But in the past, myth was not a self-indulgent fantasy; but rather like logos, it helped people to live creatively in our confusing world … a primitive form of psychology.”

It is wrong therefore to assume that something which firmly belongs to the mythical genre is not true, but is truer in a real sense, for it seeks to make sense of the world. Nowhere is this seen more vividly than in the Holy Scriptures.

“Only dull science expects / An accurate audit.” she notes

We should therefore be less concerned by Red Dragons than the very notion that when Heaven and Earth are merged into a single place, and the New Jerusalem arrives (in my mind) a bit like that alien spaceship at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, then everything will be transformed.

At that point, of course, something is predicted to happen which makes sense: something which we instinctively desire to run away from, but which is an essential part of the Advent Question: What are we waiting for? The answer being, of course, judgement.

Matthew 25:31-46, NIV

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

There remains much for us to do whilst we await the second coming, and the greatest part of our busy-ness needs to be in this realm: the actual building of the kingdom, the care of the least, the outcast, the addicted, the prisoner, the sick.

The Social Gospel is the groundwork of both our ministry, but also our essential Christian lives and It is clearly our response to the Good News that seeks to serve others. But it is not enough.

The transformation of Christian Life is rooted in both the exterior (what we do to others) and the interior (the difference it makes to us). In the time we have been allotted before the return in Christ in glory, we therefore need to both heal and be healed. The healing of others is indeed the good works which is certainly of use to the building of the Kingdom (James 2:20) but in today’s reflective pause, I to remind you of the need to be healed yourself: through prayer, through spiritual guidance and most importantly through the healing of the sacrament of reconciliation.

In the Church of England, this is a most regrettably neglected sacrament. Not “confession” as our brothers and sisters in Rome would have it, for the act of confessing our sins is only part of the process, a necessary preparation, an Advent of sorts for the Reconciliation and Absolution which is what this encounter with God is truly about: it is necessary because we all need that healing, it is desirable because it brings us into the visceral encounter with one of Christ’s main activities – the forgiveness of sins; it is effective because it frees us from those things which burden us and hinder us from being truly ready when the Lord returns.

I commend the sacrament of reconciliation to you this Advent: the unburdening of sin which is so often glibly applied. Even if it has not been your spiritual discipline, and if It has been but has fallen away (and I know from personal experience how easily it can do so), the I wish to encourage you to return to it: either here today or later, with myself or another. How can we make Christ known, if we ourselves have not come to know his forgiveness; how can we pronounce that blessing if we cannot be blessed and released ourselves?

I want to draw this second talk to a close with another Advent/Christmas poem, and one so well-loved. John Betjeman’s Christmas initially speaks (quite disparagingly) of the preparations for Christmas before moving away from tinsel and presents and onto the real significance of the Incarnation. Once upon a time in Palestine, and remaining with us, in the Mass, until he comes again in glory.

The greatest commandment “do this in remembrance of me” brings the past into the present, makes the Mythos into Logos and makes sense of the Incarnation for me.

John Betjeman. Christmas

The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain.
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hooker’s Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that villagers can say
‘The Church looks nice’ on Christmas Day.

Provincial public houses blaze
And Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says ‘Merry Christmas to you all’

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children’s hearts are glad,
And Christmas morning bells say ‘Come!’
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true? and is it true?
The most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me?

And is it true? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was Man in Palestine
And lives to-day in Bread and Wine.

John Betjeman (1906 – 1984)

in Bread and Wine , as Ursula Fanthorpe said,

“Every day.
Be realistic, says heaven :
Expect a miracle.”

So therefore, for our next period of reflection, I will ask you to think of these things:

  • “Jesus is coming – Look Busy” – what will be keeping you busy when he comes, and will it be something of the sheep or of the goats
  •  “And is it true? and is it true?” as Pilate asked Jesus “what is truth?” How much of what we hold dear is literal fact and how much of it is mystical language and does it matter?
  • What about your own spiritual preparation – are you shriven? Are you directed? Do you need it?
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One comment

  1. Pingback: The most missional if not the most signficant | revjamespb

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