Monday, 18 December 2006

A great and mighty wonder

The Christmas Feast is thundering upon us, and life seems to be one long preparation at present. I have managed to get my Christmas sermons written today (Midnight Mass and Christmas morning) as well as one for this coming Sunday morning (Advent 4). Plus I've put together a short address for a funeral on Wednesday. Past compilations and resources have helped, but they still have to be edited and adjusted to make them relevant to the setting and time.

The Feast itself may be timeless, but our understanding and appreciation of it changes with every year. At times it's the theme of the Logos that seems to be central - this year it's the reality of the stable birth that is coming to the fore - the general ordinariness of the shepherds, their language and sheepy aroma - that is on my mind. God incarnate in the ordinary, in the unprepared, in the temporary. And still we are not ready to receive Him.

I have a child's poetry book that I remember from my early years, entitled "If Jesus came to my house". It goes through how we would welcome him, and what we would offer as hospitality. It could be quite an effective reading at a Carol service, and I may use it next year.

The weather has turned cold today, and since I was going to be in my study most of the day writing the sermons, I lit the fire. I very rarely use that fireplace, but it's been lovely and cosy, and visually it has made it look like Christmas. As a cleric I find it hard to capture the feeling of the season, being caught up in preparing worship so that others may encounter the holy amidst the secular merriment. But that's all part of the calling, and so long as I keep in mind the reason for it all, then I do manage to enjoy it on a personal level as well.

So three more Carol services to lead - more mince pies to consume, and hopefully more mulled wine to warm the cockles. That was one of the benefits of my recent retreat to the English Convent in Brugge, the availability of the warm wine in the bars of the city. The first one I had was incredibly potent, and kept me nicely heated on the walk back to the Convent with a tray of chips and mayonnaise. It's a great city to visit in all seasons, but pre-Christmas it's really rather special.

Now with darkness falling the fog is rising off the Waveney valley and the temperature is dropping fast. Time to put a couple of baked potatoes into the oven for tonight's supper.

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