Advent is a truly wonderful time of year. I have a beautiful little book on my shelves written by Jane Williams, the wife of Rowan Williams, who is a theologian in her own right, titled ‘Approaching Christmas’. The illustrations are rich with fine art. Its chapters focus on things that we associate with Christmas, such as making lists, decorations, gifts, Christmas trees, music, food and family. Below is an extract from the chapter about making lists.
“The next part of God’s Christmas list is to prepare the right setting for the birth. Here too God shows surprising restraint, even – dare we think it? – inefficiency. After all those centuries of making lists and getting things ready, Jesus is finally born in a stable because his parents can’t find a hotel room in the crowded town. All the rest of us would book ahead, especially with everyone coming home to be counted for the census. But not God.
God does send a big group of angels, singing loudly and joyfully, but arranges all of that for a group of shepherds. God could have sent the angels to a large crowded city, and called all the people to come and witness the birth of Jesus and bring him presents and help to spread the good news about what God is doing. But instead all those angels set off for a hillside and sing to a small group of shepherds, and then they send them off to look at the baby. Being angels, it never enters their heads that they are perhaps over-qualified for the job God has given them. They do not think that their brightness and their music are wasted on the shepherds, because nothing that God wants can possibly be wasted……..
All this planning and work on God’s part and what comes of it? Just a little baby born in obscurity, noticed only by a few characters. All those centuries of planning, for this? Surely there must be some mistake? Shouldn’t God’s action be impossible to miss? Has it gone horribly wrong?
But perhaps, if we try to get into God’s imagination, we might begin to see the point of Christmas all over again. God’s strange preparations are a tender mixture of the ordinary and extraordinary. Angels and stars and prophets from centuries ago join with shepherds and travellers and Mary and Joseph to celebrate God’s Christmas present to us – God’s son, Jesus, who is, just as Isaiah says, Immanuel: a demonstration that God is with us.”
- Advent Carol Service: readings and music to mark the beginning of Advent. Tonight at 7:00 pm in the church.
- Christmas Flower Donations: please give to Jill Woodside (Sundays), or to the parish office (weekday mornings).
- Ordination of Women in NZ: 40th anniversary today Cathedral 3:00 pm.
- Needlework Group final meeting for the year: DVD’s and Christmas supper at Jill Woodside’s, Tuesday from 7:00 pm. Please bring a small plate of finger food.
- Lunch at Regatta on Avon: next Sunday at 12 noon. Details Alice.
- Communion at Three: next Sunday. All welcome.
- Parish Breakfast: not in December—the next will be on 10 February 2018.
- Book Swap: on bookshelves in the lounge. Koha to parish.
- Recycling Electronic Equipment: please put unwanted phones etc in the box at the back of the church or take to the parish office. Details Jenny Daniels (347 7629).