The Annunciation

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15 December, 2020

The Annunciation



In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgins name was Mary. He went in and said to her, “Rejoice, you who enjoys Gods favour! The Lord is with you.”

Luke 1: 26 – 28.



Saying Yes to God


The Annunciation is an amazing account of God’s intervention into the world through the mysteries, powerful yet simple conversation and presence of an angel with young Mary in Nazareth. I try to imagine being in the room when she responds, “You see before you the Lord’s servant; let it happen to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).


Wow, I find myself overthinking these words and grab at the how, what, where, when questions whilst running on adrenalin plotting and scheming about the implications.

·      How is this possible

·      What does this mean

·      Where is this to take place

·      When…WHEN?


The challenge is not to overthink these words but rather just let them be spoken for me, for you. To quote Henri Nouwen “Mary is so open, so free, so trusting. She is completely willing to hear words that go far beyond her own comprehension.”


Mary hears the words from Gabrielle she does seek clarity but does not doubt what God has call.

·      She is scared but does not withdraw

·      She uncertain yet has faith


“How can this be”, how can this be possible… only Mary has or ever will hear the words “The Holy Spirit will come upon you”.


This Christmas let’s meditate on Mary’s response, and may it be our response to the Holy Spirit’s nudge when God has something for us to live out.


Prayer


Life-giving God, we thank you for calling Mary to be the mother of Jesus.

In a world where men were in control, you chose a young girl to nurture the Saviour of the world.

In a world where power is sought, you turned our values upside-down by inviting Mary to share in the great work of redemption.


We thank you that still you can call women and men to share in your saving actions.

You call us to live and serve in the ways of Christ, uncertain of the future but trusting in your faithfulness.

Sometimes your choices surprise us, the way you seem to point daunts us, your faith in our possibilities awe us.

Help us to say “Yes” when you call. Enlarge our vision, strengthen our resolve and increase our sense of your all sufficient grace, that we might be used mightily for your glory and for the serving of the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

(Patterns and Prayers Christian Worship)


Photo by Bethany Beck on Unsplash 

  

  

      

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Christmas Is Really For The Children?

Christmas Is Really For The Children

Christmas is really

for the children.

Especially for children

who like animals, stables,

stars and babies wrapped

is swaddling clothes.

Then there were wise men,

Kings in fine robes,

humble shepherds and a

hint of rich perfume.

Easter is not really

for the children

unless accompanied by

a cream filled egg.

It has whips, blood, nails,

a spear and allegations

of body snatching.

It involves politics, God

and the sins of the world.

It is not good for people

of nervous disposition.

They would do better to

think on rabbits, chickens

And the first snowdrop

of spring.

This slightly jarring poem from Steve Turner reminds us that a shallow take on Christmas loses sight of the profound nature of God’s entry into the world and his ultimate purpose. A young betrothed Jewish girl of no significance has her story told for the next 2,000 years. Ah the simplicity and profoundness.

So, as we come to Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ. We can so easily get caught up in the holiday festivities; school and work breakups visiting extended family, decorating our houses buying presence... we forget to pause give thanks for the love, hope and joy found in Jesus – our Saviour and friend. As we exchange gifts with loved ones, it is out of remembrance of the gift God gave us in Jesus. The gift that we are loved, are never alone and can have hope for the future.

After Jesus was born, a small group of wise men visited him. They recognised the kingship of Jesus and they “worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11). We too, can offer up our worship and thanks to God through prayers this Christmas. Prayers of thanksgiving for the gift of hope, love and joy. We also have commoner shepherds entering the picture equally celebrating the coming of the Messiah.

Here we are 2020 and Christmas this year looks different to previous years. It may not match up to the commercial images you see or hopes you may have. But the meaning of Christmas doesn’t depend on the gifts under a tree or the type of food on your table. The message of Christmas doesn’t change if you are surrounded by family or missing loved ones. It is not affected by the house you live in – or don’t live in.

God’s love is for everyone. You are not alone. You are loved, and you can feel hopeful and joyful. That is the true meaning of Christmas.

Prayer

Lord, in this holy season of prayer and song and laughter, we praise you for the great wonders you have sent us: for shining star and angel's song, for infant's cry in lowly manger. We praise you for the Word made flesh in a little Child. We behold his glory; and are bathed in its radiance.

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Criticism

Criticism

Galatians 6: 1 – 6

Brothers, if someone is

caught in a sin, you who

are spiritual should

restore him gently. But

watch yourself, or you

also may be tempted.

(Gal. 6:1).

A bloke once had a go at me saying my blessing for ministry would be taken away! It was delivered with great gusto, it was blunt and public, leaving me feeling furious and judged.

The context was this: a few of us were sitting in a mate’s shed discussing the whole gay marriage question (this was about 8 years ago when it had emerged as a big question for the wider church). As the conversation progressed there were big, bold statements of condemnation of gays and of those who sought to endorse marriage for them.

I shared with these blokes that my nephew was gay and as consequence had experienced his share of bullying and rejection growing up. As his uncle I did my best to respect, validate and love my troubled nephew. I posed the question to all present in the shed; when eventually my nephew decides to marry, do I compound his rejection and invalidation by refusing to support the marriage or do I affirm and engage with him and his partner and call them to live the values and grace of his Christian heritage to the full. What does God call me to do? And that’s when this bloke dropped his clanger.

I reckon there are times when the best of Christianity can be swallowed up by the worst, and often the worst is simply mean-spirited attacks from within our faith communities. Not inspiring for those looking on at the church while it beats up on itself.

Our Lord made it really clear if you’re struggling with a brother or sister in Christ, go and sort it out, don’t further demonise them don’t assume the worst of them because you simply can’t agree on a matter. The best way to resolve the disagreement is between the two of you (Matt 18:15). It’s awkward, uncomfortable and it takes prayer. When resolved, that relationship can be stronger than ever. And it’s your opportunity to grow, in wisdom and as a disciple.

God of friendship and forgiveness,

You lead us on life’s journey As we gather in Your name,

Open our minds to know Your voice.

Open our hands to do Your work.

And open our hearts to hold Your Spirit.

Amen

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