Saturday, 27 December 2008

Christmas Reflections

Main themes of Christmas for me this year: shepherds - smelly, unpopular, left to do the job no one else wants (which is why the boy David was a shepherd boy - he had plenty of elder brothers who left him to it! - and was called in from tending the sheep, to be anointed as the next king by prophet Samuel)... so Luke tells us that messengers of God appeared to tell shepherds that their king had been born. The last shall be first...

Refugees - it hit me again how Jesus & his parents fled the massacre planned and implemented by Herod the Great (or should that be the Terrible) and lived as landless foreigners in Egypt - which was probably no more fun for them that current asylum seeking is for our generation

Gift wrapping. What?! Yes, packaging. We throw it away, the wrapping paper. When I was a child we even managed to burn some of the money that had been sent as gifts, that had got mixed up with the paper. Made a lovely warm glow for a few seconds... If Jesus was God's gift, he got screwed up and throw away too - because we despise humans, made in God's image. We throw away the image of God in the people around us, treat them as replaceable, cheap and disposable. And what we do to each other, we do to him.

Glimmers in the West

Wise men from the east may have perceived and followed a star... Today I read that one from the West is beginning to see the light!!! Well, it's not conversion as many of my colleagues would perceive it, but it's a conversion of mind that could lead all sorts of places.

What comes to mind is the bald statement I made to a Muslim friend the other day "You don't have to believe Jesus is the Son of God in order to follow him; but you have to know that if you follow him it may well lead you to that conviction."

A surprised friend said, "Do you really believe that?" And it is his troubled questioning that has haunted me these last days - that perhaps I might be seen as a heretic for insisting that since God came in Jesus, we should encourage people to meet Jesus as a man, and allow his God-ness to seep through, rather than insisting that they believe impossible abstract theological propositions about him before they have got inside his heart and mind.

Anyway, thanks to John for putting me onto this: Well worth a read. Atheist Matthew Parris shares his reflections on the profound difference that a Christian worldview makes in African culture. I'd be interested to hear some reactions.

Friday, 5 December 2008

A beginning and an End

Advent arrived
while I was away
Good News
rolled in like waves over long dry land:
a new job
a sister's visit
a gift of cash
a sleeping grandson
a free ticket to the ballet
-a magical night at the ballet.
Before each could recede
the next advanced the tide
and the long season of death
seems dying.

Keep coming
till the threshing of the dark dragon's
future-free form
beneath the tide.

Happiness is Contagious

We knew this, didn't we? Still, it's good to know that the scientists have established it. Happy people make the people around them happier. So it's socially responsible to be as happy as we can then. No more moaning about Pollyanna. She increases our own prospects of happiness far more than we contribute by our scepticism and self-styled realism.

Happy Advent, one and all (though apparently the contagious effect only works with people who live really close by, so forget those cheery cyber-friends, and spend some time with some real happy people nearby!)