Monday, 19 December 2016
Well actually there were fifty-four candles hanging from the ceiling as we reached 'candles by candlelight' and the places felt full! The readings that take us from prophecy to fulfilment and the smell of a real tree and mulled wine all conspire to make an imminent Christmasce just a little more real. As much as I enjoy the carols, the joy is to be found in the people around us and the conversations had.
The early service was a joy as I shared the run-in to Christmas with familiar faces: Long-standing and faithful church goers I've now known for fourteen years now. The old have got older, many have left the building, and the reality is that the shelves have not been replenished as well as I'd have liked. But the key is to preach the word and to enjoy the people and trust God to care for the Church. The potential to try and do it in our own strength, like Ahaz, rather than accept God's word, submit, and remain under His wings is massive. Mary submitted and obeyed - seems to be a good way forward.
Next service (soundsing like Wimbledon) was very different and found us still in the building an hour after we'd finished - and I like that - being Church and making family a reality. This is where the engagement and opportunities to be involved with each other comes home. This is where I need to be most I reckon.
Then the mulled carols and minced wine all conspire to close the day on a gentle high. There is something about singing the words of the Bible - images of miners down a pit singing and exiles singling Psalms appear - and yet we turn more to man's words rather than God's. I need to look at my liturgy and the way that I, and those I minister to, worship.
But as I embark on a week filled with promise and pastoral I find myself to be just a little excited. with four more services and few more funerals line up to make the procession into Christmas even more special. Lord, help me to listen for your voice this week and to have my eyes and ears open more than my gob. Show me the places I should be rather than the places others will draw me away to. Make reading the word and singing songs of deliverance over the people a priority in this last week before the arrival in Bethlehem - and the real Christmas presence is found - and strengthen my wear knees and feeble heart.
Help me to go joyfully, not screaming and kicking :-)