Sunday, February 02, 2014


As I said in my homily for All Saints, Uplands, I really love this feast.

I love that we get one more visit to the crib, one more chance to cradle the baby Jesus in our own arms before he leaves us behind and begins his journey to the cross.
I love the way the liturgy takes us from the crib to the cross by way of our own baptism
And, as someone who loves, loves, LOVES candles - I love the way the service overflows with images of light and darkness.
This morning, the resourceful Herring of Christ produced a truly splendid all age talk based on making a lantern out of an orange, some olive oil & a blow torch...and the resulting lantern burned cheerfully on the altar for the rest of the service.
Of course, there was a bit of effort, some fiddly removal of the pulp of the fruit to be done before it really lit up - and I couldn't resist the reminder that there's often a LOT of effort and clearing away of our own stuff before we can begin to shine...but after a while, shine it did - and so do we.

After Communion, as we've done every year, we moved with our lighted candles to stand by the crib. 
The light there has burned non-stop since Christmas Eve - and I've often come in to church to find a visitor lingering there.Last week I met a mum with a toddler, sheltering from the downpour, the child shrieking excitedly
"It's NOT over Mum...It's NOT! it's NOT"
but today Evie & her mum finally flicked the switch - and that was that.

Christmas finished for another year.

It felt specially odd, as I reflected that whoever unpacks and arranges the crib next Advent - it won't be me...but as we processed to the font, reciting the Nunc Dimittis as I do at the end of each and every funeral, I realised that I wasn't leaving Christmas behind me but taking it with me - in every single one of the lovely people there. 

They stood around me, each one carrying their candle but bearing so much greater light than just those little flames. For a few moments as I looked at them, I seemed to be experiencing an answer to the prayer that I use before worship so often
"Loving God, as we gather in worship today help us to recognise you in your word, in one another and in the breaking of bread"
That little group of children and adults shone so brightly with the love of God that I viewed them through a rainbow of tears.

Moving on isn't going to be easy - but given such light along the way, I'm sure we will all arrive safely.

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