Today, we stand, at the gate of the year...
time to take up the challenge and step through,
daring to dream,
daring to hope,
daring to be God's people in the world.
Given we're still in the Christmas season until 6 Jan, we had one last opportunity for a bit of a Carol sing.
Our readings featured travelling Magi, plus Simeon and Anna at the Temple on the day of Jesus' presentation at 8 days old.
One poem, by Godfrey Rust, pondered what the story of the Wise Men might have looked like, had they slightly overshot their mark both in place, and in time...
‘The journey of the magi (cont.)’
Coming as they did from the first century
they had a few problems with London traffic
and were seriously misled by signs
to the Angel and King's Cross.
Inquiring diligently about the star
they were referred to Professor Brian Cox,
who thought it was amazing
while smiling in a constant and strangely unsettling way.
In Harrods the camels
made a mess all over Soft Furnishings.
On the Underground
commuters glared at No Smoking signs
as incense wafted gently through the carriages,
and when the great day came
they saw the entire voting population
slumped on sofas by four o'clock,
rendered senseless by too much
dead poultry and the Queen,
while over Liberty's and Hamley's
the flickering angels sang
Glory to God in the High St
and they found him,
with the inns full up once more,
in the old familiar place,
bringing their unregarded gifts
to the empty stable
of the human heart
where the infant Christ is born
again and again.
A beautiful piece by Mary Lou Sleevi reflects upon Anna, the prophet:
Her laugh is simply happy
The prescribed pair of turtle doves,
averse to captivity,
refrain for the moment
from their soft, plaintive moans.
From their perch
they lurch forward
to take in The Occasion.
Anna recognizes a child
at his Presentation in the temple.
She talks of him in no uncertain terms!
Her particular words are shrouded,
but Delight registers profoundly
under the veil of widow-black.
A lifetime of focus
is all in her eyes.
Thanks be to God!
The old woman is truly Beautiful
and beautifully True.
Anna comes to Her Moment laughing,
her face the free expression
of all that’s inside.
Her life of late
seems to have staged
an ongoing soliloquy.
That heavenly smile authenticates Anna.
She is the Recognized Prophet
who came and confirmed
the word of a brother who said,
“‘My eyes have witnessed your saving deed
displayed for all the peoples to see…'”
As prophets do,
Anna ensured that the message
would get beyond temple precincts.
She probably heard Simeon speak,
and may have embellished
by extending her hugs to the Chosen parents,
Anna had seen it all.
Grown-ups talk anxiously about
fulfilling the dreams of children.
is an elder’s consummate Belief
in a dream come true.
She speaks truth beautifully,
The gift of prophecy is backed
by her life/prayer of eighty-four years.
Stretch marks from
solitude and solicitude and solidarity
show in The Wrinkling,
giving her face its certain Lift.
Anna of the free Spirit
is no solemn ascetic.
She talks to the baby,
as well as about him,
She shoulders him closely,
absorbing his softness,
experiencing a Benediction of Years
This is Manifestation embodied.
The prophet knows
she has looked at him
words of Jesus would Beatify her vision:
“Blest are the single-hearted
for they shall see God.”
Those eyes have twinkled
as she wrinkled.
“Constantly in the temple,”
the temple of her heart,
she became familiar
with every inch of her living space
—including its limitations—
and the Beneficence of Sister Wisdom
Anna liked the view from her window.
And a comfortable chair.
In “worshipping day and night,”
she had spent her Vitality
on an extravagance of prayer,
and discovered she was strong.
Life with Wisdom was a trilogy
of faith, hope, and love.
In Anna’s everyday Essence,
love of God and faith in a people—
faith in God and love of a people—
were insatiable and inseparable.
And her fasting produced
a Gluttony of hope.
The disciplined disciple,
stayed in touch with the world
and kept finding God.
upon his time,
she welcomed The Promised One.
“She talked about the child…”
And talk Anna did.
She is more than prophet:
she is a grandmother!
Because it is the Christ-child she hugs,
Anna, as prophet,
is particularly aware
of the vulnerability of less-awaited children
and parents, who also have dreams.
crinkle with joy.
Anna is Anticipation.
She is an Image
of constancy and change…
the progression of peace and purpose
at any stage of life.
Hers is the Holy City.
as Anna lived it
lessens fear of the death-moment.
For, with God, one never stops saying
And so, through Scripture readings, carols, poetry, and brief reflections, we thought about journeys, and power found in unexpected places, as well as stopping to pause to leave regrets behind as we stepped into the promise of a new year.
And, in preparation to step through the gate into 2018, we said John Wesley's Covenant Prayer together:
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
May God bless us all, as we step through the gate of the year...