Happy Holidays Winter Wishes ’Tis the holiday season The Festival of Light. When and Why did the word ‘Christmas’ become such a threat? A word to be avoided? Why do we take offence at the sight of a baby? Poor, conceived out of wedlock Homeless. When I enter the darkness of the stable I see little. No tinsel here. Yet I am drawn to the scene. This babe in whom all our hopes rest The mother lifts him and gestures. I draw near and he is placed into my waiting arms. Just a baby a chubby arm flails up and meets my cheek. holding him a wave of love consumes me. For somehow, he is mine own. This child will live and grow and die and live and be mine. forever. What comfort to hold him knowing this is so. Here I can leave my pain My disappointments My grief. The Christ Child will take them all and remain with me loving comforting forever.
It was a cunning disguise. You’d have won a fancy dress competition. Who would have thought to look for God in the womb of an unmarried teenager in the barn belonging to a pub? in a crying baby? in poor people far from their simple home hounded by bureaucracy? in a child who would soon be ‘wanted’? who would soon be a refugee? Who would have thought to find God later in an immigrant? in a backward fishing village? in a carpenter’s workshop? Well yes – in his celebrity status performing miracles and healings….. I would expect to find God there…. but then to find God on a cross alongside two thieves and convicted of blasphemy? Who would have thought That God would be found now Here, in you, in me. Do you wince thinking ‘only on my better days?’ No friend, He is in you even now - This treasure likes to live in broken pots That His glory may be seen through the cracks. That His presence delights to be with me Is a wonderful mystery born of love God with us Emmanual
As we entered the year, few were aware of the cloud over China The size of a mans fist That would grow to encompass the planet Dripping disease, spreading fear and anxiety Locking down the frenetic world Till all was still We hunkered in homes Disconnected with all that went before Isolated from each other Counting the death toll. The pundits quick to criticise All that was done But having no answers of their own. Much that had meaning was shed as shops shut, workplaces closed We stopped our rounds of visits. It was time to stop. *** How swiftly life reduced To four walls. And I was challenged By my inner sparseness Stripped of activity Faced only with news Of disease and death, It was time to clean the clogged fountain And let the spring rise up anew. This small cave grew and expanded Simple beauty pervades my heart Inspired by creation Through which I stroll The light of God my source In this darkness. These burdens too heavy I pass them to my King Who bears all things And gives me life How sweet His name. And now I furnish His house My heart With good things With beauty Forests of peace Lakes of kindness Mountains of faithfulness Waterfalls of joy Good fruits Pathways of self control The scent of patience on the calm sea I walk across the gardens of gentleness And relish the landscape of love How can my life be called constrained When this richness is in You Lord Within me. Your song drowns out the clamouring circumstances Glory outweighs suffering This outward world so quickly shrank But the inner world expands For all time Until one day, we will see you clearly Walking over the waves towards us To greet us in a holy embrace.
What!?? Two posts in as many days!! What’s THAT about then?
The thing is, yesterday, a wave of HOPE washed over me, just as I was was driving along. I've written about it: Yesterday, an illogical wave of Hope swept over me. It felt so good. Even amidst the global crisis I was reminded that there is Hope. Jesus himself walked with us in our darkest times. He lay, emaciated in Bergen-Belsen He crouched in the Anderson shelter hearing the bombs whining and crashing. He waded into the water at Hiroshima, in skies red and black. He fled the great fire of London. He sat on dusty plains of Africa's famines and cried in Romania's orphanages He heard the cries 'bring out your dead' as plague stalked the land. He was a refugee, fleeing murderous threats. Oppressed, like honest men under communist rule. Rounded up, like the Jews. Did I mention he was Jewish? He was the object of lies, and mockery, falsely arrested. Betrayed and tortured and murdered, like monks as their monasteries were pulled down around their ears. He walks through hospital wards and sits by hospice beds And rules from a throne, highly exalted. He is alive. He is hope. In our midst. Personified. His cry of 'HOPE' can be a whisper deep inside, almost unbelievable. Almost. Or HOPE can be a cry from Heaven, echoing across the land Bouncing off mountains and oceans alike. Coming from an empty tomb in Israel. It is a sure thing. Hope. Hope. HOPE.
When and where is there joy? When He holds the most important place the Highest place the innermost throne of my heart and in my life. He loves to dwell in the inner sanctuary that too often he occupies alone whilst waiting for me. In that place is Gold A River Laughter Rest Beauty Tears Vastness Passion A different experience each day. Truth Conviction Grace New beginnings Gifts Revelation Adventure Love poems Encounters and so it goes on… I could write a Thesaurus and it would never say enough. For the words of what is found in that place march off the page to eternity. My fickle heart - you have an enemy who shakes to see you go there. Not merely to pass through paying lip service to my King But to sit. To gaze. To dwell. Therein my joy. My love. My heart.
This is the world you hold in your hands. Not one jot one iota of suffering goes unseen. You wince as a sparrow falls to ground so how could our suffering leave you unmoved? This wonderful world made for your children Each ploughed field nurtures and blooms with life sustained by mud, sun and rain life-giving elements freely given. Growth is in your being O God, whose depths cannot be plummeted. Yet even as you fling the ever expanding universe into space You regard, lovingly, the palms of your hands engraved with our names. Each of our faces before you. Lives known. Our souls are seen. And loved. An empty cross our proof of your infinite care. Our bottled tears kept safe until the day when no tear more will fall. For we will see you. Face to face. Earths cares forgotten in the light of eternity.
“Walk with me” The words to your friends in Eden’s cool evening tumble through history. Enoch, walk with me Noah, walk with me whilst I explain carpentry and rain Walk with me, Israel, through parted seas and barren desert. I'll walk you to the promised land though you wriggle to escape my hand. Even as they feasted on milk and honey, they strayed. So far that none could hear your voice. So you yourself came Looked us in the eye and bid, ‘walk with me’ And we followed and walked from Galilee to Jerusalem and back many times, walking and talking. You were our friend, walking with us. Your crown was hid, and when your plan was revealed and disguise cast away You merely asked us ‘pray with me’ yet we slept, and on waking, we fled. Death could not hold you. Alive and risen you took again to the road with ordinary people. ‘May I walk with you?’ And you walked and talked explaining the plan, only leaving when light had dawned upon our dull brains that this was you and you were alive. Despair dethroned by Hope. Here we stand Urged by ancestors to walk with you A cloud of witnesses watching our steps until we will come to the city where no one shall say to another ‘know the Lord’ for all shall know You. All shall walk with You in a place beyond time itself. But for now, as gravity pins me to earth I hear the call of love the call to friendship You almost sound lonely, and certainly yearning: “Walk with me”.
It is time to leave all of our boxes:
Our zoom boxes
Our gadget boxes, our entertainment boxes
Our boxes with wheels or without wheels
Plunge instead, into creation and taste its rich delights
The world of colour, texture, smell
Full of the nature of our Creator – from tender deer to towering mountain
Through the seasons His message is plain – He is beauty
Life comes from death
Take off the mask and breath deeply
Of sea salt or pine forest or damp, peaty earth
Feel your soul expand as you move, unboxed, into Him…and live