Christmas Eve: a few bits for you if you have any time to spend on them. A reminder that after tonight we won’t be ‘zooming’ Evening Prayer until Sunday 8 January. Tonight we will be zooming Christmas Eve Evening Prayer at 5.30pm. The link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89345442544?pwd=c2g0ckhJRlh6dkV2Z1QyeER1akp6Zz09
Meeting ID: 893 4544 2544
The blessing this week is ‘May the mind of Jesus’ from In Tune with Heaven. It comes with our prayer that you will have a peaceful & joyful celebration of Christmas.
With our love
“Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place.” What better way to pray, than taking some time to look at the scene of the birth of Jesus and to go to Bethlehem? Take the image on a Christmas card, or spend time before the crib you have in your house or in your church, or look for a nativity scene on the internet. What is it like to “go now to Bethlehem?”.
What strikes me most when I look at the scene of the nativity? Above all the persons, Jesus, just born, looking like every other new-born, beautiful but so tiny, totally dependent on others. Mary, his mother, like every other mother who has just given birth, tired yet unimaginably happy. Joseph, full of wonder at what has just happened, so happy for doing what he was asked to do by the angel. The shepherds, simple, poor people, still amazed at the vision of the angels and the news that they had just heard. Everyone in this crib scene was called to step beyond their own ways, their own road, and their ways of thinking for the greater glory of God. How was this possible? They were open to the way of love and trusted in the one who guided them.
I put myself in the poor stable. I can feel the joy and love, the deep peace, the wonder. But also the utter poverty, the darkness, the strangeness, the unpleasant smell of animals and wet hay. Moreover, this Saviour, the one who fulfils God’s promises, is born in great poverty, outside of his own town, not even in a home or an inn, but in an animals’ stable. How does this impact on me today?
We remember the words of the angel ‘Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.’
Many parts of our world are in a real mess now. Our world often looks and feels and smells like the stable of Bethlehem. Some parts of my life may be messy too. I stay with a word or image that strikes me most, as I ask myself whether the birth of Jesus is for me good news of great joy. I reflect on the fact that I have been given a Saviour, one who makes up for my shortcomings and those of the world.
As we conclude our reflections on Fratelli Tutti we are reminded that after their encounter at the stable in Bethlehem “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told to them”. The shepherds were stepping beyond the crib at Bethlehem into today’s messy world. We are called to do the same by reaching out in fraternity and social fellowship to all our brothers and sisters that we meet as we return along the road.
Pope Francis invites us to remember “human beings are so made that they cannot live, develop and find fulfilment except in the sincere gift of self to others. No one can experience the true beauty of life without relating to others, without having real faces to love. (FT87). Love also impels us towards universal communion. No one can mature or find fulfilment by withdrawing from others. By its very nature, love calls for growth in openness and the ability to accept others.” (FT95).
Word made Flesh. Joyce Rupp
You came to dwell among us long ago.
No matter how dull & listless
or how happy & fulfilling our lives may be,
there is always need for a deeper awareness
of your hopeful presence.
There are signs of your coming,
signs of your continued presence
everywhere in our lives.
Freshen up our vision
so we can recognise your dwelling
within & among us, as we move hurriedly
in this busy season of the year.
If You Came in the Spring.
If you came in the Spring,
we could expect newness,
bright yellow flowers
to soften your path,
the songs of birds
to herald your coming.
But you came in
the chill of complacency
settled upon us.
If you came in summer
we could expect you
to be bronzed
stepping from the sea.
But you came
in a stable,
a wrinkled baby
with animals as midwives,
and angels for playmates.
Help us to set down
our parcels of expectations
to reach down & scoop
you up in our arms,
your laughing breath
giving us life.
Thom M Shuman
You are Deeply, Deeply Loved.
On this night of the year, a voice is speaking – can we hear it?
‘I know the cares & anxious thoughts of your hearts.
I know the hard time you often give yourselves.
I know the hopes & ambitions that you have for yourselves & others.
I know your doubts too – even while you seek to express your belief.
On this night I want to find a way of saying to you:
You are deeply, deeply loved,
just as you are,
forgiven, love, & challenged to be
the very best you can be.
So I am speaking to you in the only way I know how –
from a stable
in a child born into poverty,
soon to grow to maturity,
born to show you,
ion a human life,
the love of God.
You are deeply, deeply loved.