Brian Draper of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity muses on advent and how it illuminates need vs want.
(thanks to Kate for this one)
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.
He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.
He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.
He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.
© Rowan Williams
(We can only hope that now he’s stepping down from the ABC post that he will write more poetry.)
A sister advent blog muses on Sophia & incarnation.
Hello all & welcome back to the Christ Church Spitalfields Advent Blog.
This year we are thinking together about the theme of ‘foretelling.’ Throughout Advent, Christians celebrate not only the biblical prophecies or announcements of Jesus’ upcoming birth to people like Mary, Elizabeth and Zechariah, but also the echoes of Jesus’ coming throughout history, in times both ancient and contemporary.
What have you been noticing, doing, thinking about, creating, or simply wanting to share on the theme of foretelling? What does it mean to you to receive and send the announcement of Jesus in your context?
As always, you can submit a post using the ‘Submit’ button at the top of the page or by e-mailing email@example.com. We’d love to have at least one post a day.
What do I wait for?
Washing to finish?
Friends to arrive?
Children to be ready?
Shift to end?
Do I live for the moment or am I waiting for the next good thing, the next day off? Am I rushing time away or waiting for the good things to happen whilst paying no attention to the here and now?
Is waiting good? Why do we wait?
Are we impatient in our waiting? Does God hold something for us now which we miss because of our focus on what is to come?
The children have their advent calendars to help them wait. Is this what we need, not a chocolate each day to keep up happy until we get our presents but a daily reminder of what God has done and why we are celebrating this season?
The little boy in the John Lewis ad reminds us of why we wait: to see the faces of those we love receive good gifts. God waits to see our faces when we receive from him. This is his perfect gift to us: his son, living so he can die so we no longer need to die but will live.
We get impatient waiting.
Good things come to those who wait.
‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.’ What is light?
‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was without form and void, and the spirit of God swept over the face of the waters. God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light, and God saw that the light was good.’ What is light?
‘In Him was life and the life was the light of all men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.’ What is light?
Light is energy. It behaves like a wave and like a particle, but it is neither of these.
Energy enables things to happen. God is energetic, the source of all energy.
We are made of matter. Matter is made of energy. Thus we are energy. We are of the same substance as the light.
‘Men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.’ Darkness cannot overcome light because it is nothingness, an absence of light. Our enemy rules a kingdom founded on nothing.
In nothingness, in the outer darkness, we cannot live. We can live only in the light. Shall we live in God’s light, the only source of life?
(Isaiah 9:2; Genesis 1:1-3; John 1:3-4; John 3:19)
So I guess it’s time for me to get the old geetar out and sing you my favourite Christmas carol. In terms of pure bombast and rip roaring guttural rock n roll it’s hard to look past Oh Come all ye Faithful and Hark the Heralds however neither of these is my favourite carol. My favourite carol is In the Bleak Midwinter.
I’ve always found it reminds me of home especially when there’s some brass in it. I think it’s because the melody is reminiscent of the Hovis advert music ( http://bit.ly/uyqgoS ) so conjures up images of cobbled northern streets, colliery brass bands and dole queues (oooh satire!). I also think the melody has a melancholic quality and I’m quite partial to a nice bit of melancholy.
The real reason I love this carol though is the final verse. Firstly because it is simple. In an increasingly sophisticated world I think we over complicate our faith, I know I tend to add layers of unnecessary complexity to mine in an attempt to rationalise it and within the church I often feel it’s hard to be taken seriously unless you’ve written a treatise on postmodernist eschatology or some such nonsense. This verse cuts through the bull, sends away the wise men and reminds us that the heart of the gospel message is humility and simplicity. It doesn’t matter if I can argue intelligently, speak eloquently, design beautiful architecture or afford a fancy hat what matters is that I choose to follow him. Secondly I think at a time when we become obsessed with buying the right presents for the right people we can forget about ‘lil baby Jesus and if we do think about him it’s always in the context of what God gives to us at Christmas - “unto us a child is given”. The thing is if giving gifts at Christmas is important and Jesus is the most important part of Christmas then surely we should be thinking about what we can give Jesus at Christmas. This verse for me is a constant reminder of the most important gift I should be giving this Christmas - “what can I give him poor as I am?…What I have I give him, give my heart”. It’s a gift I generally fail to deliver but one I’m reminded by this carol that I should really concentrate on.
So I’ll leave you with this: We’ve spent advent waiting. Well the time for waiting is nearly over and Jesus is nearly here…….what are you going to give him when he turns up?
Hope you enjoy my little ditty and you have a grand Christmas and prosperous 2012.