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Pam’s Ponderings

In her ‘Curate’s Contemplations’ last month, Sarah wrote of the church’s new year at Advent and the ‘run in’ to Christmas. She contrasted the  pace of hectic commercial plans with the pace of the Magi and invited us not to rush this extraordinary celebration of Immanuel, God with us.  

How did that work out for you? 

The experience of Christmas ‘festivities’, especially  under the cloud of Covid, could have been  a heightened sense of grief,  loneliness, and anxiety. Was there a real anticlimax, disappointment as expectations were thwarted, as all energy was condensed into an exhausting  24 hour window, a long weekend at best. 

This seems to be such an apparent  contrast to the joys in the Nativity story, Mary and Elizabeth praising God for their babies, especially Jesus,  his safe delivery and angels celebrating, shepherds summoned from obscurity to be God’s chosen first witnesses to the Messiah’s  arrival,  precious gifts to recognise a new relationship between mankind and God … how can these two realities coexist?

Perhaps this next church season of Epiphany, and a new year,  hold some of the answers, or pointers, to a way forwards for all.

This season of Epiphany, which we start early on January 2nd, takes us in our Bible readings through many ups and downs for Jesus. Epiphany sets the scene of inviting us to look for where God is revealing his presence in Jesus … what this ‘light of the world’ means in love, peace and joy, forgiveness and generosity, healing, mercy and justice.  It doesn’t take a physics specialist  to know that light is most obvious, and effective,  in darkness. And that is where Jesus goes, to meet every type of disorder, distress and disease.

The apparently dark times are there in the nativity but we tend to focus on what delights us – however – reality check – an unplanned pregnancy for Mary and Joseph to respond to, trekkking to Bethlehem when heavily pregnant to give birth in  make do accommodation, important people like religious, economic and military leaders  being sidelined by unimportant shepherds  who announce God’s gift of his presence and, later, Magi pilgrims inspired by a star to wander into the unknown with precious of gifts, an expedition from different cultures prepared to make a journey to the unfamiliar not knowing how long it would take, what they would find.  It is in  the seeming darkness of these situations  where God met them in their needs as they sought Jesus.

Reflecting on the nativity it is possible to see that the light of  joy comes at those times when Jesus is the focus. We can be reminded, like Mary, Joseph and the shepherds  not to fear what seems difficult and foreboding for God is there too. Emmanuel –  God is with us.

As I wish you a Happy New Year, I mean may we all find ways to see and receive God’s guiding light, and may we each give that light of peace, hope and joy where we see darkness. 

Thank you for Christmas generosity to the Reading Support group for Refugees, our chosen charity.

Shalom ~ Rev Pam