Sunday, December 24, 2006

adviento: maría

Picture created by RIBLA meeting at ISEDET, autumn 2006.

Love cries from a stable trough,
His passion foretold.
Still, we make ready
For a world fashioned anew.

Mary’s risk

Mary you took a risk
not with strangeness but familiarity.
You didn’t go innocent and pure
but with eyes opened,
by unwed mothers send beyond the village.
You went knowingly, deliberately.
Surely you would hesitate.
Such a dreadful thing to be asked of you.
But you said yes
And had faith
in your God who lifts up those cast down.

Another feeling I have -
one I’m not yet willing to let go of
but keep turning over, looking at it from different standpoints-
is that you didn’t have a choice;
or rather the only choice you had
was to accept the angel’s gift of possibility and purpose
out of a terrible thing.
What makes men act like this?
Making much of their power
soldiers conquering.
So the angel brought you a change for peace.
And your decision was whether to trust after, not before.

And you did trust.
And you did risk.
And we do too.

Rachel Starr, Advent 2001

This week's readings are available online here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

adviento: juan el bautista

Love cries from a stable trough,
His passion foretold.
Still, we make ready
For a world fashioned anew.

Late in the third week of advent, we turn to John the Baptist, neither a reed shaken by the wind nor dressed in soft robes, as Jesus bitingly points out many years later as John is imprisoned.

I can't tell you much about John's role in Latin American spirituality but since I arrived back in the UK the talk and action has all been about getting ready as are this week's readings. John wasn't arrested for excessive last minute shopping, or taking liberties with Nigella's Christmas pudding. No, John was arrested for his mad crazy rants. He was locked up for freaking everyone out, for bawling the crowds out of their comfortable (mince pie induced) haze. Get ready, he told them, coz it's all about to kick off.

So how do we make ready for Christmas?

John gives us a few tips:
"Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise."

"Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you."

"Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."(Luke 3.10-14)

That'll do for starters.

This week's readings are available online here.

Monday, December 11, 2006

adviento: los profetas

Love cries from a stable trough,
His passion foretold.
Still, we make ready
For a world fashioned anew.

The prophets (this week's advent theme) are remembered for their passion for justice. Jesus too, although we tend to think of his passion in terms of the cross.

But Jesus passion was not for death but for life - for friends and strangers; food and drink; the land and sea; for conversations and chance encounters; for traditions and surprises.

Our passions take us out of ourselves. They make us do things we never might of imagined. Passionately we declare a secret love, or stand in silent protest against the war in Iraq. Passionate action rarely fits codes of acceptable behaviour - just look at some of the actions of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible! But our passions can call us to deeper love and justice.

Last week I was taking to a friend about their home town in Chile. They told me it was by the peaceful sea. I wanted to know more, imagining a tranquil bay. No, they corrected me, el Pacífico, the Pacific Ocean. The two words are the same in Spanish. The origins of the word Passion come from the Latin passio, meaning to suffer, and suggest Jesus' passive acceptance of his fate. Yet, we can also think of Jesus' death or passion as a result of his passion for life. The passion for justice which, like many other prophets, was too far outside the bounds of morality for those in charge to tolerate.

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight--indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; (Malachi 3:1-2)

The readings for the Second Sunday in Advent can be found here.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

adviento: esperanza

Love cries from a stable trough,
His passion foretold.
Still, we make ready
For a world fashioned anew.

In church this morning we heard the gospel from Luke 21.25-36 and when we reached the last verse, a man standing behind me spoke the words in anticipation:
but my words will not pass away.

The first week of Advent is about hope. In that man's voice, I heard a determined hope, one that echoed the other reading for today from Jeremiah 33.14:
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

Hope is fragile (the butterfly or mariposa is a traditional symbol of the hope of resurrection). But we cannot let it go, despite everything we know of pain and fear, and our constant doubts that all this will come to nothing.

Yet to sustain hope, we have to practice it. We have to hear it spoken by others and keep on proclaiming it to ourselves. So this morning we sang to each other:
May you not lose faith, may you not lose hope
May you not lose faith my brother
May you not lose faith my sister

Although the present time is difficult
and affliction grows among us
may you not lose hope, my sister
nor blow out the light of God's reign.
(J Páez, E Sosa, P Sosa)

As advent begins, we allow ourselves once more to name our deepest hopes, that God will come to meet us once more, love crying from a manger.

The revised Common Lectionary readings for today are available online.

Friday, December 01, 2006

love and passion still in fashion

Love cries from a stable trough,
His passion foretold.
Still, we make ready
For a world fashioned anew.

There are 1.8 million people living with HIV/ AIDS in Latin America. Today we are called to account as a global community, and asked why the HIV/ AIDS pandemic still continues to claim the lives of the poor and otherwise marginalized people who remain without medical care, information and support.

As we move into advent, we remember that God has formed us and been formed as one of us, sharing our lives and deaths, our loss and hope. And today we are challenged again to be bearers not of death and loss but of life and hope.
We bless you God
for your passion in creating this world
and your compassion in becoming part of its fabric -
flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone
in Jesus

God beyond our understanding,
Christ within our reach,
Spirit present at all times,
we celebrate your love for us

Take from World AIDS Day service 2006 from Christian Aid by John Bell