With reference to Galatians 4:4-7 the first written reference to Jesus’ birth where Paul simply says he was `born of a woman’ & Luke 2:22-40 Jesus is presented at the temple and Simeon and Anna know that God is up to something in this child.
This morning we sat in a circle and took turns reading the scriptures from different translations and finding where it sparked a response in us. We also engaged with the following questions and ended the service by blessing each other into the New Year by joining hands and singing Auld Lang Syne.
Questions to ponder:
What have you longed to see/experience in your life time?
What can you do/have you done to help bring that longing to fruition?
On the edge of the New Year – what are you releasing/what do you want to release? What are you anticipating/hoping will happen in the New Year? What can we do to support you? Where is your faith life in the releasing and new beginning?
Some poetry and prose for the journey…
I Wish I Had
I … have found as most people approach death they feel worse about things they didn’t do, opportunities they allowed to pass them by; than about things they wish they had not done.
…We can begin today to live in such a way as to have fewer regrets when there is no tomorrow.
But if you are like me, attempting to change for the better will soon give way to returning to old patterns. Progress is usually slow. Change, if there is any, is measured in small increments, not large ones…….Because becoming our best self is a lifelong and often discouraging venture, it is advisable not only to be persistent but also to be gentle, compassionate, patient, and forgiving as we stumble toward our goals.
When I find myself frustrated and impatient with my failure to achieve my inner bucket list, I think of the saying, “The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, so don’t forget snacks and a magazine!”
AT CHRISTMAS – December 2017
In the global turbulence we pause
to be silent, to speak from deep places.
And so – no calm acceptance
of homeless millions,
of a planet in tears,
of shock politics,
of the trajectories of hate.
We have seen further and the vision holds, –
for the truths of Christmas remain true,
confirming the joyful fact
that all is not degraded in our human story.
In each new day, rich in surprise,
we recapture the possibility
of reaching out in love,
of rejecting fake news,
of belonging together.
Look and see!
The candles are lit, celebrating REAL NEWS,
that hatreds fail,
that healings happen,
that barriers are broken,
that the arc bends toward justice.
Truly our days are infused with Light
and Goodness and Mercy shine brightly within them.
— Peter Millar, Edinburgh, Christmas 2017.
From: Kneeling at Bethlehem:
If there is no cross in the manger, there is no Christmas.
If the Babe doesn’t become the Adult, there is no Bethlehem star.
If there is no commitment in us, there are no Wise Men searching.
If we offer no cup of cold water,
there is no gold, no frankincense, no myrrh.
If there is no praising God’s name, there are no angels singing.
If there is no spirit of alleluia, there are no shepherds watching.
If there is no standing up, no speaking out, no risk,
there is no Herod, no flight into Egypt.
If there is no room in our inn,
then “Merry Christmas” mocks the Christ Child,
and the Holy Family is just a holiday card,
and God will loathe our feasts and festivals.
If there is no forgiveness in us, there is no cause for celebration.
If Christmas is not now, if Christ is not born into the everyday present,
then what is all the noise about? Ann Weems.
First Coming – by Madeleine L’Engle
God did not wait till the world was ready,
till…the nations were at peace.
God came when the heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
God did not wait for the perfect time.
God came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.
God did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy he came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours of anguished shame
He came, and his light would not go out.
God came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
With the World Council of Churches we pray for the countries of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon &Palestine.
We are thankful for:
- lands and monuments sacred in the origins of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
- those who unceasingly work for peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land
- the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel
- those who continue to welcome the multitudes of refugees in their lands.
We pray for:
- ending the violence racking this region, that the people might live together in peace, security and respect for each other
- those who have grown weary and disillusioned in searching for solutions
- an end to religious differences being exploited to perpetuate conflict and further displacement of people
- political leaders who will courageously bring about justice and reconciliation for the sake of all.
A prayer by Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy
Eternal God, Creator of the universe, there is no God but you.
Great and wonderful are your works, wondrous are your ways.
Thank you for the many splendored variety of your creation.
Thank you for the many ways we affirm your presence and purpose,
Thank you for the freedom to do so.
Forgive our violation of your creation.
Forgive our violence toward each other.
We stand in awe and gratitude at your persistent love
for each and all of your children:
Christian, Jew, Muslim,
as well as those with other faiths.
Grant to all our leaders attributes of the strong;
mutual respect in word and deed,
restraint in the exercise of power,
and the will for peace with justice,
Eternal God, creator of the universe, there is no God but you. Amen.