11 December 2019
REFLECTION Rev Margaret Anne Low
How beautiful are the feet of the one who announces peace.
Words that are true – news that gives hope is powerful.
The person fighting saying the Lord’s prayer at Victoria Avenue school seems to understands the power of words, for surely in this day we understand that thing which are merely cultural must be tolerated. – especially when they are the dominant culture in that school.
Some Christians support her stand against the Lord’s prayer in schools or public places but they do not realise that they are coming from a different angle. Holiness for them is for the holy, for the prayer to have real meaning it must be said in a certain setting and attitude, God’s working becomes dependant on our attitude, ourselves.
I’ve got news and it is the good news of the Christmas message. God does not depend on us, the words of hope which the Lord’s prayer has within it, may be the only glimpse into another way of thinking that those children might be unknowingly receiving by memorising the old ritual.
Listen to the first sentence. Our Father… – there is someone else outside our limited thinking who relates to us. - who is holy.
And the second sentence - Your kingdom come - what is this king and what is this kingdom like?
This king is the child of the Christmas story and the kingdom is seen when love prevails and peace and justice meet.
Words are powerful and word which can be taken and breathed into lives by the Holy Spirit is dynamic.
The exiled people of Israel in Babylon years before the birth of Christ, heard words of hope
Babylon was about to depart from being a world power and Persia, led by Cyrus, was about to take over. The new Persian regime would return the exiles to their lands. This God who looked so inadequate against the Babylonian gods has claimed his place. He is about to be enthroned. The King has returned -”your God reigns”. Israel is freshly energised, the time is coming to depart.
The prophet may be seen by some to just be saying words –nothing has changed. For the Babylonians its business as usual.
For the Israelites, they didn’t have any outward signs of anything different but they were getting a hope which was to propel them into a new place. –
When a people are depressed they accept things are the way that is stated for them by those who have power over them. Large numbers of people can be oppressed by a small group of rulers when they do not have the energy or imagination to see anything different.
But now comes a messenger announcing peace and good news to the ruined city. Everyone can see, the whole earth knows that streaming behind their Lord the people are going home
The numbness goes, the energy comes, like the elderly grandmother alone and almost giving up after a long illness when she hears the grandchildren are coming from England for Christmas. The waiting time she dreaded suddenly turns to hopeful anticipation and planning, she brightens up, her health improves she sees a new possibility opening up where before she stared at loneliness. They haven’t arrived yet but it makes a difference, a word has come.
A refugee after years in a camp where life has shrunk to a small area and daily needs, listens with disbelief to the news that at last a country will take him and the remnant of his family. Slowly the news sinks in, nothing has changed in his daily life – it will be three months before they go but now there is a new perspective. Life has changed dramatically in its dimension of hope, they sing and are joyful for they are being given a home. A word has come.
Hear the good news, light is shining and the darkness cannot overcome it, The shepherds and wise ones came to the baby and knelt, worshipped, for the only way to see a child was not to look up but to get down, get close, to look at him lying there. Immanuel they called him, God-with-us.
May be that’s why so few seemed to notice.
It was so ordinary, it was part of daily life, after all God is meant to be far away, suitably distant and holiness is not gurgling in a manger or is it?.
The light from this manger shines in the very dark places, in people and places we don’t expect.
Hear the good news and have hope, love is with us..
In a manager a new born baby sleeps contentedly, the Southern skies are full of stars and we dare hope peace is possible and the world can be made whole.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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