The flavour of our attachments this week move a little nearer to Christmas. There is another John Betjeman poem which may be known to you, but also a very short piece from Ronald Rolheiser which begins: ‘Christmas isn’t automatic, it can’t be taken for granted’. It took me by surprise but it makes a good point.
The blessing this week is ‘The Peace of Christ be with you’ from Heavenly Peace. Let’s pray it for those who find Christmas difficult. Amongst others, I am thinking of families where parents have split up and both adults and children have to deal with choices that aren’t necessarily to their liking.
Our Advent Meditative Reflections continue tomorrow – see below for details
Wishing you a good week & with our love & prayer.
(Sunday 3rd December – “What is God doing this Advent?”)
(Sunday 10th December – “Lighting the Darkness”)
Sunday 17th December – “Opening the Door of our Hearts”
Friday 22nd December – “Emmanuel”
Meeting ID: 819 3373 6118 Passcode: 257456
And IN PERSON at Blessed Sacrament Church, Melbourne CM1 2DU
on Wednesday 20th December at 5.30pm
and on Christmas Eve, Sunday 24th, we will have a zoomed Evening Prayer without the usual Sunday Scripture Refection.
CHRISTMAS EVE – EVENING PRAYER ZOOM: 05:30 PM London
Meeting ID: 883 3339 1691 Passcode: 301123
ALL WELCOME TO ALL OF ANY OF THESE –
NO REGISTRATION NEEDED
by John Betjeman
The Advent wind begins to stir
With sea-like sounds in our Scotch fir,
It’s dark at breakfast, dark at tea,
And in between we only see
Clouds hurrying across the sky
And rain-wet roads the wind blows dry
And branches bending to the gale
Against great skies all silver pale
The world seems travelling into space,
And travelling at a faster pace
Than in the leisured summer weather
When we and it sit out together,
For now we feel the world spin round
On some momentous journey bound –
Journey to what? to whom? to where?
The Advent bells call out ‘Prepare,
Your world is journeying to the birth
Of God made Man for us on earth.’
And how, in fact, do we prepare
The great day that waits us there –
For the twenty-fifth day of December,
The birth of Christ? For some it means
An interchange of hunting scenes
On coloured cards, And I remember
Last year I sent out twenty yards,
Laid end to end, of Christmas cards
To people that I scarcely know –
They’d sent a card to me, and so
I had to send one back. Oh dear!
Is this a form of Christmas cheer?
Or is it, which is less surprising,
My pride gone in for advertising?
The only cards that really count
Are that extremely small amount
From real friends who keep in touch
And are not rich but love us much
Some ways indeed are very odd
By which we hail the birth of God.
We raise the price of things in shops,
We give plain boxes fancy tops
And lines which traders cannot sell
Thus parcell’d go extremely well
We dole out bribes we call a present
To those to whom we must be pleasant
For business reasons. Our defence is
These bribes are charged against expenses
And bring relief in Income Tax
Enough of these unworthy cracks!
‘The time draws near the birth of Christ’.
A present that cannot be priced
Given two thousand years ago
Yet if God had not given so
He still would be a distant stranger
And not the Baby in the manger.
Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps.
Waiting for God is an active, alert – yes, joyful – waiting. As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him, we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes.
Without firm belief in the Incarnation there can never be true peace, true joy, true hope, and good will among people. Perhaps one of the great difficulties of our modern age is that we only half believe, half doubt. We do not go the whole way and say ‘I believe’ with total conviction. The act of faith, our ability to make it, is a gift from God for which we have to ask, and it demands a humility of mind which is not always a characteristic of contemporary people.
Christmas isn’t automatic, it can’t be taken for granted. It began with Mary, but each of us is asked to make our own contribution to giving flesh to faith in the world.