Food 4 the Road 8: Travelling companions

To all my travelling companions on this special journey …

Today we light the second candle of our Advent wreath: the Bethlehem candle which represents faith and reminds us of the journey that Mary and Joseph undertook from Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to meet Roman census requirements and, more importantly, in fulfilment of what the prophets had foretold.

In a Godly Play room, the Holy Family is a centre of focus for other stories as they hold deep significance for our faith. Their story is the story of the re-creation of the Universe for, from Mary’s womb, new life comes; not just a new life but the new life of God for the whole world.

Christ’s incarnation changes everything: it changes the way we understand ourselves, each other, the Creator, and the created world around us.

The Holy Family is the focus of attention in the Christmas story with the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem setting others on their own journeys too: the shepherds travel from nearby fields to see if the Good News that they receive from the angels is true, and the wise men travel from afar to bear their gifts to the newborn King.

As we light the second candle today, I wonder what journeys you will be undertaking during this time.
~ Will you be heading off to visit with friends and family? 
~ Will they be coming to visit you? 
~ What journeys do you remember from your past that hold special significance?
~ What trips might you be looking forward to? 
~ And what new life might the Christ-child open up for you?

Yours in Christ

Food 4 the Road 6: Where does God dwell?

As I was unpacking cupboards this week to make space for some of my “story supplies” in my new office, I came across baby Jesus and his manager made roughly of wood and a painted shoe box full of hay.

For some reason, the scene of Jesus tucked away in a cupboard reminded me of the words of the prophet Ezekiel (after the vision of the valley of dry bones):

My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”

Ezekiel 37:27-28

Incarnation is the fancy word for the Christ coming to us in a cradle full of animal feed. Christmas answers forever the question of where does God dwell.

So … for today, a series of questions to remind us of how near God draws to us in this – and every – season, as the prophets said it would be:

Where does God dwell?
In an unseen heaven far away
where we’ll meet Him on our judgment day?
No, no! God’s much nearer than that!

Where does God dwell?
In an oblong box of acacia wood
where She fits in snug as we think She should?
No, no! God’s much bigger than that!

Where does God dwell?
In a fancy temple made by human hands –
a holy place where few can stand?
No, no! God’s more loving than that!

Then where does God dwell?
Where could God be?
Where has God gone?
OH! God dwells with me. 

incarnation: tangible God

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
    light! sunbursts of light!
For a child has been born—for us!
    the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over
    the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
    Strong God,
Eternal Father,
    Prince of Wholeness.

Isaiah 9:2, 6 (The Message)

God of Beloved’s heart and Creator’s hands,
of rainbow-coloured covenant
with we who:
~ give in to delusions of deity,
~ grumble in times of scarcity,
~ grasp for power and prosperity,
~ gauge the worth of others by their vulnerability,
~ garnish spiritual life with religious legality;
~ grovel when faced with calamity –

amazing Counselor,
  strong God,
    eternal Father,
      prince of Wholeness,
Shalom in the world promised, prophesied,
within the virgin’s womb.

The cries of your milked creation –
a land of deep darkness,
a vast sea of desolation –
coalesce with the wails
~ of endangered wildlife,
~ of widows and orphans,
~ of refugees and prisoners,
~ of the outcast and the lonely,
~ of the abused and oppressed –

amazing Counselor,
  strong God,
    eternal Father,
      prince of Wholeness,
Love for the world made flesh
through the mixed miracle and mess
of Mary’s lonely* labour.

Tangible God
whose ten fingers and ten toes
Mary touched in wide-eyed wonder,
substantiate this mindful day
the gift of God-with-us.
Flare forth in the gloomy shadows
~ of hatred and suspicion,
~ of violence and war,
~ of poverty and illness,
~ of sin and death –

amazing Counselor,
  strong God,
    eternal Father,
      prince of Wholeness,
Hope of the world made manifest
in the majesty of heaven cradled
against the virgin’s chest.

Christ-Child – born for us!
Son of God – gifted to us!
~ Shalom epitomized;
~ Love personalized;
~ Hope realized.



*lonely – remote, secluded