Acknowledgement of country
We would like to acknowledge the Gweagal people of the Dharawal nation as the traditional custodians of this land on which we worship, and pay our respect to elders past, present and emerging.
John 1 v 1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Time is God’s waiting Simone Weil New York Notebook 1933-1939
God waits patiently until at last I am willing to consent to love him.
God waits like a beggarwho stands motionlessand silent before someone who will perhaps give him a piece of bread. Time is that waiting.
Time is God’s waiting as a beggar for our love.
The stars, the mountains, the sea, and all the things that speak to us of time, convey God’s supplication to us.
By waiting humbly we are made similar to God.
God is only the good. That is why he is waiting there in silence. Anyone who comes forward and speaks is using force and speaks using little force. The goodness of God which is nothing but good can only stand waiting.
Beggars who are modest are images of Him.
Humiltiy is a certain relation of the soul to time. It is an acceptance of waiting. That it is why, socially, it is the mark of inferiors that they are made to wait. “I nearly had to wait” is the tyrant’s word. But in ceremony, whose poetry makes all men equal, everybody has to wait.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
Revelation 3 v 20
Let all mortal flesh keep silence https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2MwVZyHJdo
Let All Mortal Flesh
1.Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly-minded,
For with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.
2.King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.
3.At his feet the six-winged seraph,
Cherubim, with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Lord Most High!
And he will be our peace
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”
Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
to join the Israelites.
He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.
And he will be our peace
when the Assyrians invade our land
and march through our fortresses”.
If I scroll through this sequence of verses as if they are an Instagram feed and seek a quick dopamine hit the winning phrase is clearly: ‘And he will be our peace…’
In this anxiety-laced, hustle-sick, pandemic-shaped, modern madness who doesn’t want peace? Sign me up.
But, the next part of the sentence is a little less joyous.
‘…when the Assyrians invade our land…’
When. Not, if.
The reality of invasion.
Like these stolen lands.
Like those innocent ones detained.
Like that spreading disease.
Like our plastic-filled ocean.
Invasion, invasion, invasion.
This peace is not the extinguishing of suffering or an early exit. It is not an Assyrian-proof forcefield. It is an alternate reality, somehow available, even in the middle of invasion.
It reminds me of that other poem where the guy lacks nothing, lays down in green pastures, gets refreshed by quiet waters etc…even though he walks through the valley of the shadow of death?
Or that thing about the meek being blessed or the last being first or the treasure in clay jars or this audacious claim: ‘though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day’ (2 Corinthians 4:16).
There’s a theme here, isn’t there?
The life, the blessing, the peace is found in the wounds, the loss, the vulnerability.
Dizzying paradox everywhere. Yet it makes sense of my reality.
The more I lose my rigid religious tendencies the more I find living water. The more I surrender control, the less I worry about what may come. Every part of me that dies, makes resurrection a possibility.
Wouldn’t it be nice if this satirically ‘unprecedented’ year ended with renewal glamorously rolled out and vaccines readily available for racism and narcissism and greed (oh, and COVID-19).
But that’s not how it happens.
The good news isn’t a fantasy scenario or an escape from this weary world. It’s the presence of God, right where you are. As vulnerable and precious and real as Christ in the cow trough. Where the deep peace is actually located.
Whatever you suffer, grieve, face — these may still press at your sides on Christmas morning and weigh on your shoulders on Boxing Day, and creep in with the first light of New Year's Day.
But, his peace comes even in the midst of the invasion.
‘Though you are small…’, ‘…he will be our peace’.
Though you are weary, there is rest.
To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. Revelation 21 v 6
Dear Loving God, many would have looked at the stable and seen a glass half full. Yet we know it contained the Whole Word. Transform our negative thoughts by the light of your grace. Give us perspective and patience. Give us wisdom to seek help when we need it, knowing that you are wanting us to live life to the full. For this too shall pass. You give us life giving water. May we find peace, acceptance of life’s circumstances, and hope for the future this Christmas tide.
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
It came upon a midnight clear
That glorious song of old
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold
Peace on the earth, good will 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 blessed angels sing
All ye beneath life's crushing load
Whose forms are bending low
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow
Look now for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing
O rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing
And hear the angels sing
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
We are reminding ourselves that light is returning to our world, but we also show that the darkness is good, too. The darkness is when we dream, and angels come proclaiming good news. The darkness is when magic happens, when ordinary people working the night shift in the fields behold a vision of angels, and unexpected babies are born. As we wait for the light in times of darkness, help us to look for the unexpected shafts of light and find comfort in your presence.
All pray in silence for a while.
you make us glad with the yearly remembrance
of the birth of your Son Jesus Christ:
grant that, as we joyfully receive him as our redeemer,
we may with sure confidence behold him
when he shall come to be our judge;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
And now may we leave here with the joyful, excited steps of the shepherds, may we hold onto the wonder and awe of the kings, may we proclaim the good news with the angels, and continue to ponder and adore with Mary and Joseph, now and throughout this Christmas tide.