Day Twenty Six: Too Sad To Tell

Psalm 148
Jeremiah 31:15-17
Matthew 2:13-18

In the Godly Play enrichment lesson entitled “The Mystery Of Christmas,” older children are introduced to a part of the Christmas story that is often left out.

“It’s no wonder people do not tell this part,” the storyteller says. “It’s too sad. It’s called the Massacre of the Infants.”

Yet, our texts today will not allow us to forget the terrible killing of every baby boy under the age of two in and around the city of Bethlehem as a result of Herod hearing the Good News of the Christ-King born in the land of Judah …

… nor to callously ignore the heart-rending cries of anguish from mothers unable to be comforted as the sons that had nestled so snuggly in their arms are suddenly no more.

This is no warm, sentimental story;
but a brutal intrusion into the love, the joy, the peace
which so epitomises the natal scene –
a stark reminder of why the Light of Life
came into the world;
and of the depths of depravity and fear
and resentment
that lurk within the human heart.

It is a tale which needs to be told following the heights of angel-visitation and shepherd-worship and magi-generosity lest we romanticise the Good News to the point of it being unbelievable or irrelevant to a world in pain.

This sad story which no one really wants to remember (let alone tell) is, in fact, key to the power and the purpose of the incarnation for it reminds us that right from the start, God – in taking on human form – immersed godself fully in our fragility, our vulnerability to those who have power over us, and our tumultuous up-and-down experience of life …

… born among the animals because there was no room for him, no welcome among his people …

… now the inclusion of the prophecy of Jeremiah regarding the sounds of weeping and mourning in Ramah would have reminded those listening to the Gospel story of the place through which their forefathers had passed on their way to exile in Babylon; the reference to Rachel, the grandmother of Ephraim and Manasseh, of the unassuaged grief of the Northern Kingdom of Israel being wiped out …

… then the country of exile to which the holy family flees in response to an angel’s warning is none other than the one in which Moses too found sanctuary as a baby before having to fight for his people’s freedom ….

Before he was even old enough to utter a word, the Word was
undesired,
persecuted,
exiled
that there might, one day,
be hope for our future

in spite of people who do atrocious things
because they are selfish,
because they are frightened,
because they are desperately trying to hold on to an illusion of power and control.

It may be difficult for us to empathise with the man who would order the slaughter of innocents in order to protect his crown, but the truth is that when we are acting from a place of selfishness or fear or the need to control, we often inflict damage upon other people through our words and the way that we act towards them.

In today’s imagining, try to picture what was going on in Herod’s mind and heart as he heard the Magi’s tidings about the Christ-King … as he waited day after day for them to return only to find out that they had deceived him. Reflect on situations in which you have felt similar emotions and how you acted from them.

What word would the grown Christ-King offer Herod? What word does he offer you? 

Day Twenty Five: A Shared Life Taking Shape

Psalm 148
Exodus 33:18-23
1 John 1:1-9

Within the Christmas Mystery this year, I have been captivated by the wonder of the God-of-our-wide-universe
(the Maker of mountaintops and morning stars,
of sunshine and thunderstorms,
of apple orchards and cedar forests,
of fire and hail and snow and ice,
of ocean depths
and the fantastic beasts that dwell within them,
of animals, wild and tame,
of angel armies and intimate friends,
of old and young of different races and giftings;
praised by all created things as the
God-whose-radiance-exceeds-everything) – see Psalm 148 –
choosing
to enter into our lives
in the wrapped-up form of a human baby.

To borrow (and re-order) the words of the hymn-writer, Charles Wesley:

“He laid his glory by,
He wrapped him in our clay …
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made man.”

At the heart of my wonder is the realisation that though our Christmas celebrations centre around a historical act, it is one that spans the ages to offer me (and you), personally and intimately, the invitation to experience a shared life with God –

a life lived right beside God,
shielded by God’s own hand from the fullness of God’s glory which we cannot yet grasp or understand (Exodus 33:22),
yet fully welcome in the communion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
and present to the Infinite and Eternal taking shape and unfolding right before us
(1 John 1:2-3).

God not only knows you and I by name
but God longs to be known
by you and by me
in increasing intensity of understanding and intimacy …

… the God who holds everything known and unknown about the universe
in such mighty hands,
shielding us in such gentle hands,
entrusting Godself into our hands
made clean by the blood of God’s son …

… that our joy (and God’s) may be complete
as we walk and fellowship and grow in God’s truth and light.

For a moment, make your arms into the shape of a cradle waiting to receive a child. Feel the emptiness of space waiting to be filled.

Now imagine the Infinite God, wrapped in cloth, in human form, lying in your arms. Savour the weight of such presence,
the warmth of such intimacy.

Reflect on what Christ gave up in taking on such a fragile form. Wonder about some of the yearnings of God to share life with YOU. 

Such intimacy,
such trust,
such knowing
is not – as we saw in yesterday’s readings concerning Jeremiah and Stephen –
without implications or consequence:
if we long to share life with the One-in-whom-there-is-no-darkness,
that life needs to make place:
for God’s Word and Truth,
for fellowship with one another,
for confession of our sin, our need,
for God’s faithfulness and forgiveness,
for “Son-bathing” in God’s light and love
for us and for others (1 John 1:6-10).

As you think about the year that lies ahead, reflect on the space that you have created and might want to create to share life. Where and when and how will you find place to cradle and to be cradled?

Day Twenty Four: The Morning After

Psalm 148
Jeremiah 26:1-9,12-15
Acts 6:8-15; 7:51-60

It’s the morning after ….

For some that means headaches,
or hangovers,
or a house to clean up;
for others something entirely more dire
as we weigh up what happened last night
and what needs to come next
to get ourselves out of (the mess we have made)
or into (the life we have imagined and planned);
for others, still, it is just another day
in the ongoing and endless cycle
of work and rest,
of play and pray ….

Yet, with the rising of the sun on this new day,
we are reminded that the Light has dawned –
the Light of Life, the Lord of Love;

that just yesterday we received the Good News
of God-with-us:

a light-seed planted within us
that love may rise graciously to life –
both in us and through us.

Our readings this day may seem a little unexpected for the morning after the wonderful proclamation of
“Christ is born!”

Yet both give us clues for holding onto and living out that powerful message long after the Christmas decorations have been packed away and life has resumed its usual routine.

Through the prophet Jeremiah comes the warning that if we fail to listen to the words of the Servant who he has sent to us so urgently, our lives will become places of desolation and despair (Jeremiah 26:9).

He makes it clear to us that in order for the light-seed that we have been given through Christ’s coming to bloom and burst forth in the deepest places,
we need to:
change the way we’re living;
mend our deeds;
listen obediently to the Message of God
(Jeremiah 26:13).

I must point out that this message was preached in the court of the Lord’s house to all who had come to worship and not to the unbelievers!

For Stephen, full of Love-inspired grace and power, the message found expression in the miracles and wonders that he was able to perform among people desperate for a little love, a little light;
in a countenance as radiant as an angel’s;
in the imitation of God’s all-embracing love even at the moment of excruciating death as he beseeches God on behalf of those that he had just named a stiff-necked people – resistant to the Holy Spirit:

“Lord, do not hold this sin against them,” (Acts 8:60).

As we move towards a new year with its usual resolutions to lose weight, spend less,
spend more time with family, stop smoking, learn a new skill etc., today’s word is both encouragement and caution:

to consider carefully, prayerfully, that which truly needs to change in our lives; that, rather than relying on our will or self-discipline, we may move with the Spirit and grow with the Message that we have received –
a Message of affirmation
rather than criticism,
a Message of belonging
rather than the need to perform/conform,
a Message of joy in every moment rather than the vague pursuit of “happiness,”
a Message from God rather than the promotion of another personal brand ….

Where might the Spirit be moving you in the days that lie ahead,
that the light-seed planted in you may grow and bloom?

Day Twenty Three: Light Dawns

Isaiah 62:6-12
Psalm 97
Titus 3:4-7
Luke 2:8-20

As we embarked on our Advent journey, I offered the simple story of how my children used to mark their birthdays with the words:

The earth goes round the sun,
The earth goes round the sun,
Three hundred and sixty five days a year
the earth goes round the sun. 

Well, three hundred and sixty five days have passed since we last remembered the story of God entering our story; our life, our days, our death in human form.

For three hundred and sixty five days, the sun has come up each morning; banishing the darkness and offering the gift of a new day – full of new opportunities, new beginnings.

But this is the morning, the day that we celebrate the angel greetings: “Don’t be afraid.
I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide:
A Saviour has just been born in David’s town,
a Saviour who is Messiah and Master.
This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger”
(Luke 2:10-11).

Light dawns …

the Light
from which all life dawned:
the Great Let-It-Be
who christened the vast expanse of space
with millions upon millions upon millions
of stars
as signs of God’s strength
to do the impossible
for us
and with us
and through us

now nestled
in a manager,
in a stable,
in an obscure town;
too busy and too full to notice
the Great I AM
whose hands laid the earth’s foundation,
gripping tightly to his mother’s finger –

a reflex
– surprisingly solid, firm –
rehearsed within the virgin’s womb;

Dependable God
now dependent
on a nothing, from no-where really,
who gazed in wide-eyed wonder
at those who came to see
and marvel
at how God completes God’s promises.

Light dawns …

… the light of our salvation.

Named Jesus (God saves),
Immanuel – God with us
that we might be re-named:
Holy People,
God-Redeemed,
Sought-Out,
City-Not-Forsaken
.

Light dawns …

… the light of realisation:
such mystery,
such wonder,
such love,
such joy,
such peace,
such promise,
such hope of eternal life
is too much for us to make sense of

yet,
through the Christ-child,
within our grasp.

This Christmas,
may light-seeds be planted
in us,
and in all people;
the Light of Life
alive in us.

Light dawns ….

Day Twenty Two: Home

2 Samuel 7:1-11,16
Luke 1:46b-55
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

This year was a tumultuous one for my family and I as we sold the house that we had dreamed of, built, and lived in for fifteen years; packed a lifetime of memories into 52 boxes; and immigrated to an unfamiliar land with the hope and the promise that God would go ahead to prepare a place for us ….

In the midst of all the uncertainty and anxiety lay this grace: that we had a home to go to, a place of our own where we would be sheltered and safe while jobs, schools, church, furnishing etc. slowly fell into place.

Home. Our home. From the moment we inserted the key in the lock and opened up a welcome space, all of the unfamiliarities and inconveniences and heartaches suddenly seemed manageable.

Home.

King David had found one in the conquered city of Jerusalem. All settled in, he was suddenly conscious of the fact that while he enjoyed the comfort and protection of his cedar house, the Spirit of the Lord had been residing in a plain tent since the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in the land of Egypt.

Yet even as he ponders building a dignified sanctuary for the Lord, God declares:

“ I shall build you a house.
I who took you from leading sheep to leading my people,
who raised you from a humble shepherd to a conquering king;
I who have been with you and gone before
and granted you victory after victory over your enemies –
I will appoint a place for my people
and ensure that your family and your royal kingdom are permanently ensured”
(2 Samuel 7:11-16, paraphrased).

Home.

A home worthy for a king: the King of Creation, our Prince of Peace.

And so God sent the angel Gabriel to a small village called Nazareth, in Galilee, to a young virgin named Mary who was engaged to be married to a man from David’s line.

And Gabriel appeared to her and said:

“Good morning!
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you,”
(Luke 1:28, The Message).

Mary was perplexed – and probably more than a little shaken – to receive such a greeting from this divine messenger.

As we may well be when we realise that God does not want to be housed in an ornate temple that we visit on sacred days or even relegated to the mysterious heights of heavens …

but God chooses to make God’s home with and within us.

God is with us:
settled into the ordinary and the everyday of our routines,
present  for our wonderings and our worryings,
sitting in on our questions and our conversations,
welcoming the visitors to our door
and walking with us through the neighbourhood …

… God is home

… we remember and we celebrate – particularly this night.

Light a candle or leave a light on this night as a symbol of welcome and invitation to God who longs to make home with you.

Day Twenty One: Origins

Psalm 89:1-4,19-26
Judges 13:2-24
John 7:40-52

There has been a shift in interest in recent years among avid readers and movie-goers from the stories they love to the stories behind the stories they love.

From films like X-men Origins and Batman Begins which explain how iconic superheroes got their powers and what motivated them to use to, to behind-the-scene glances into the lives of authors like Jane Eyre (Becoming Jane) and Beatrix Potter (Miss Potter), to prequels to popular books like Anne of Green Gables and Red Dragon, there seems to be a  deepening desire in our time to understand more fully the context from which a character or plot emerged.

Yet origin stories have been around for as long as we have – in every culture, and religion.

Our reading from Judges 13:2-24 tells us of the origins of Samson; the champion raised up by God for the people of Israel in a tumultuous time of invasion and onslaught by the Philistines.

His beginnings are similar to those of John the Baptist: his birth was foretold to a barren couple by an angel with strict instructions that he is never to drink wine (nor shave his head) for he has been set aside for a specific purpose – to begin the deliverance of Israel from her enemy.

In a similar fashion to Zechariah, his father – Manoah – is unable to believe the news until he witnesses God’s messenger ascending into heaven.

I wonder what sparked his disbelief.
An inability to recognise the divine in the form of a seemingly ordinary person?
Failure to comprehend or fully trust the power of God to bring about what was promised?
Such as sense of insignificance that he couldn’t embrace the idea of being chosen to be part of God’s special plan?

In John’s gospel, Jerusalem is buzzing with speculation:
Could Jesus be the Christ?
Is he not, perhaps, just another prophet in a long line of prophets?

The crowds begin to argue about his origins and the origins of the promised Messiah, but the temple guards who had been sent by the Pharisees and chief priests to arrest him come back empty-handed.

When questioned about their failure to carry out their instructions, the argument about his origins does not even come up, though the Jewish leaders clearly believed that nothing good or powerful could ever come out of an insignificant place like Galilee (see verse 52).

Yet, these soldiers simply say: No one ever spoke the way this man does
(verse 46).

Manoah’s disbelief in the message because of the ordinary appearance of the messenger, the ruling council’s dismissal of the Christ because of where he came from, even our own preoccupation with the origin of our stories (and ourselves) may be a sign of …

… how lost we are in terms of understanding our own significance …

… how sceptical we’ve become of the motives of others …

… how deeply we’ve bought into the societal measures of another’s worth – their profession or skin colour or marital status etc. – which, in turn, influences how we measure our own worth.

As children of God, our origin story is vital, not only to who we are and are becoming, but also to how people will receive the message of love and peace that we bear – in our words and our actions.

As we enter into the meaning and the message of Christmas, spend some time today remembering the back story – not just the story of Christ’s birth, but the ever unfolding story of God’s love for us since “in the beginning ….”

Day Twenty: Heroes

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
2 Samuel 6:12-19
Hebrews 1:5-14

One of the questions that I’ve most enjoyed asking young people – both within church and school settings – over the years is to identify their heroes. The answers always follow the same pattern:
a few joking proclamations of “I’m Batman” or Wonderwoman or even Spongebob Squarepants (often accompanied by the theme song which gets stuck in my head for days);
followed by the names of a few famous people like Beyonce or Tyra Banks (or anyone who has recently won Idols);
followed by a few “right-sounding” answers – Mother Teresa, Ghandi, Maya Angelou –
and then there’s an awkward silence and a shifting in the seats until some brave soul blurts out,
“my mom,”
“my gran,”
“my best friend,”

followed by a long and breathless explanation as to why someone so ordinary counts as a hero ….

And suddenly everyone has a name to offer, a story to tell, about an every-day, ordinary, real-life hero whose faith or love or sacrifice or integrity or perseverance in the face of unbelievable adversity has inspired them and made a permanent impression on that young person’s life.

King David was a great hero to Ethan the Ezrahite, and, indeed, to the whole nation of Israel.

Psalm 89 is a song of remembrance:
of his special calling and anointing,
his prowess in battle,
his servant heart,
his close walk with God;
of the glory days of the kingdom
which should have endured forever in accordance with God’s promises –
‘I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations’ (verse 4).

Yet we know of at least one person who most certainly was not a fan: Michal, the daughter of Saul who “despised him in her heart” as she witnessed his triumphant entry into Jerusalem with the ark of the covenant, leaping and dancing before the Lord in a linen ephod (2 Samuel 6:14-16).

The reason for her contempt – besides the obvious hatred for the man who had succeeded her father – was this symbolic act of exchanging his kingly garments for a dress worn even by the young servants of a priest’s family; an undignified declaration that though he was Israel’s anointed king, he was one of the people and a simple servant of God.

In a similar fashion, Christ, in clothing himself in fragile human form, reveals that he is one of us and a servant of the Father.

Yet, as God brings his firstborn into the world, he proclaims that even the angels must worship him:
for his throne will last forever
and he will rule with fairness;
when the earth and skies he once fashioned are worn out,
still he will remain –
the same –
in his love of good and his loathing of evil
(Hebrews 1:5-14).

The reason why heroes are so important is that they inspire us to become heroes ourselves. They influence our values, set us goals to aspire to, and – in the way that they have transformed the world for us – invite us to consider how we will transform the world for others.

As we move ever closer to Christmas and welcome the firstborn of the Father into the world, I wonder what his example teaches us to aspire to.

Today, reflect on the role models and heroes that have been present in your life. 

Give thanks to God for their example and influence.

Consider how you may be a hero of the faith in the coming year. 

Day Nineteen: Love Song

Psalm 89:1-4,19-26
2 Samuel 6:1-11
Hebrews 1:1-4

“Your love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it!
I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are.
I’ll never quit telling the story of your love—
how you built the cosmos
and guaranteed everything in it.
Your love has always been our lives’ foundation,
your fidelity has been the roof over our world”
Psalm 89:1-2 (The Message).

Love is the first and final Word in our story:
in love we were knit together, intimately known even before we were born;
for love we were made – love of family, love of friends, love of lovers, love of the Lord;
and through Love we are set free from the bonds of sin and death and claimed for the eternal.

In the days of the prophets, there were words of warning and promises of restoration; exhortations to return to God; calls to repentance and fasting and sacrifice, cautions to remain faithful to God’s covenant with his people …

… so many times, so many ways … God reached out, redeemed, liberated, forgave, opened up the way ….

And then Christ came, the last and final Word:

the radiance of God’s glory,
the exact representation of his being,
the sustainer of all things by his powerful word –

Love.                                           (Hebrews 1:1-2)

While you’re revelling in this love song of God always reaching out for you, let’s interject with another story ….

The people of Israel are having a party. David is king. He has captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites and defeated the Philistines and is bringing back the ark of the covenant to his new capital. There are songs of celebration; people laughing, pushing, dancing as they make their way in the procession.

And then the oxen stumble and a young man, unthinkingly, reaches out to stabilise the ark – this holy and sacred chest which housed the ten commandments and was a sign of God’s presence with them – and is struck dead in accordance with the Lord’s warning in Numbers 4:15b:

“But they must not touch the holy things or they will die.”

David is perplexed, afraid and angry, and puts aside the ark in the house of Obed-Edom for three months – where it a source of blessing to Obed and to his whole household.

Love.

The love of God is a fearsome gift;
the presence of God-with-us a precious thing.

Though the Good News of Christ’s coming may be cause for joyful singing and laughing and celebrating and dancing, the love of God for us is not to be taken forgranted or treated lightly …

… and the One who Loved us so much that he took on our form and entered fully into our life, suffering and death for us remains
the radiance of God’s glory,
the exact imprint of his nature,
the one who upholds the universe by the power of his word.

This is no little love but LOVE.

A Love to be in awe of.
A Love to cherish.
A Love to treat as sacred and holy.
A Love to take seriously.
A Love to honour and obey.

Today, consider a posture or a symbol of reverence that you can incorporate into your prayer life or Christmas celebrations … like Moses taking off his shoes on holy ground … kneeling in prayer … sitting with open, outstretched hands etc.

Day Eighteen: Where Loyalty May Lead Us

Psalm 125
Malachi 3:16-4:6
Mark 9:9-13

Our readings from Malachi and Mark today both make mention again of the prophet Elijah:

  1. Malachi, in preparing the people for the Day of Judgement in which all evil will be destroyed while the faithful enjoy the warm sunshine of God’s deliverance,  refers to a powerful prophet (Elijah) who will come to call future generations to love and respect one another in accordance with the laws and decrees given to the nation of Israel by Moses so many years ago;
  2. while Jesus, in coming down the mountain from a miraculous moment of affirmation and transfiguration, explains to his bewildered disciples that John the Baptist had already done Elijah’s job of heralding the Messiah … and suffered for it –
    “But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him,” (Mark 9:13).

Elijah …

… on the one hand, a powerful prophet who defied kings and foreign gods, who walked closely with God, and who was taken up into heaven …

… on the other hand, a man always on the run, reliant on God’s divine provision for water and for food in a prolonged time of scarcity and struggle; discouraged, exhausted, wanting to die ….

John the Baptist: the messenger who would prepare the way for the Lord in the spirit and the strength of Elijah (Luke 1:17), promised to be a blessing to his parents and a source of joy to many; arrested, imprisoned, beheaded for speaking truth and holding on to what was right (Matthew 14:10) ….

There are definite benefits to having our names recorded on Malachi’s scroll of remembrance as one of God’s faithful followers:
eternal life with God,
victory over sin and death,
God’s protection and provision,
the Holy Spirit as our constant companion,
true and lasting transformation – from the inside out,
a sense of purpose and significance etc.

But the choice of a Christian life and a lasting legacy is not without cost!

Just ask the bearers of the good news like Elijah and John, or the martyrs of the early church; or reflect for a moment on the piercing question that Jesus asks,

“Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected?” Mark 9:12

To share in the exaltation of Christ is to share in his suffering;
to share in his resurrection is to willingly enter into the place of death and emerge as a new creation;
to share in his message of all-embracing love is to open ourselves up to the probability of mockery, rejection, and persecution.

Today’s response is based on a poem by Herbert Brokering and Scott Noon about a people who were longing to be new and in tune with their souls so, at least once a year, they would lie down on the ground, curled up and small, and picture themselves returning to the centre of all that is God’s.

As we enter the song of the Spirit, we are challenged to do so knowing that the life we will lead will not always be an easy one; that we are, in fact, opening ourselves up to the possibility of brokenness and pain, as Christ did for our sake.

Today, I invite you to curl up on the floor in a little ball, to lie quite still, and then – as you offer to God your worries, your objections, your doubts, your questions, your surrender, your prayers for protection and guidance – to allow God to “unfurl” you into the promise and power of rebirth, of new life.       

Day Seventeen: The Legacy We Long For

Psalm 125
2 Kings 2:9-22
Acts 3:17-4:4

One of the most sobering realisations for me as a parent is that I’m leaving my greatest legacy behind right now in the way I influence my children, for bad or for good.

How I pray and make time for God,
speak to my husband,
respond to authority,
encourage responsibility for household tasks,
spend my money,
articulate my values,
behave in a crowded parking lot,
admit my struggles and weaknesses,
say I’m sorry …

… it all has a monumental impact on
the adults that they are growing into,
the relationships that they will pursue,
and they way in which they, in turn, will raise their children.

Legacy. It’s not as much about what we leave when we die, as it is what we instil in the world around us while we are living.

And that impact, though small or seemingly insignificant at the time, can be passed down from generation to generation to generation.

In today’s Old Testament reading, the powerful prophet, Elijah, is asked by his younger travelling companion, Elisha, for a “double portion” of his spirit as an inheritance when Elijah is taken away by the Lord (verse 9). He is asking, in essence, for the blessings and privileges of an eldest son: permission to carry on Elijah’s ministry.

In his reply, Elijah indicates that he has no right or power to give God’s gift to someone else, but he knows that should Elisha witness his ascension into heaven, it would be a sign that God had, indeed, passed the prophet’s mantle on to this young man (verse 10).

“Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” Elisha asks, striking the river Jordan with Elijah’s fallen cloak.

“Resting on Elisha,” the water replies with its parting (verse 14).

“Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” the people of Jericho ask as they point to the foul spring water that is poisoning their land.

“Resting on Elisha,” the water replies as it is purified by salt and a powerful proclamation of healing which holds true even to this day (verses 21-22).

Likewise, the words of the apostle Peter on trial before the ruling council for performing an act of healing outside the temple are about choosing the legacy that they long for.

On the one hand is the legacy of ignorance through which they disowned and killed the author of life; on the other, the legacy of prophets and of the covenant that God had made with their forefathers: to be a blessing to all people by turning from their wicked ways (verses 17 and 25-26).

We, too, are heirs of the prophets; recipients of an ancient and eternal covenant with a Holy and Mighty God who will, one day, restore everything to order.

The choice, too, is ours: to shroud ourself in blissful ignorance, or to take up a prophetic mantle and become agents of liberation and healing in this generation and the next and the next ….

Today, if possible, throw a few pebbles into a pond and watch how far the ripples reach ….

Reflect on yourself as a pebble cast out into the centre of your family, your community, your country, your world.

What is the legacy you are leaving? What is the legacy that you long to leave?