Strange That — It’s All About Love

Some strange things happen at this time of year. It’s as if we suspend, at least for a bit, the sad stuff about ourselves and the world, enjoy our imagination more and put on our festive face and share a bit of Christmas magic, Ho Ho Ho!

So for example, we talk of Santa Claus coming down chimneys, we maybe even left him something last night to sustain him for his onward journey.

Maybe we watch a good Christmas movie, ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, ‘It’s a wonderful life’ or some other with a happy ending of course.

We may even a bit more charitable to those with whom the rest of the year we find a bit of a trial.

The strangest event of all that which we come here and to celebrate this morning, the birth of Jesus.

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The Risky Yes of Faith

‘Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’

I wanted to begin with these verses which precede those we have heard today. We have of course nearly completed our Advent jigsaw puzzle. We have these last few weeks pondered some of the themes of the season. This morning we turn our thoughts to Mary, to Jesus’ mother without whom the puzzle cannot be finished.

Mary is often depicted as serene, beautiful and sad in so many statues, icons and pictures. She looks tidy and neat. Many of these don’t quite ring true for me. They’re just too perfect and also she often looks too old. She was after all a young girl, 16 or 17, perhaps a little older or even younger.

And like most 16 year olds probably had hopes and dreams for her life. She knew this carpenter Joseph and could imagine a life with him. But then the Angel Gabriel appears and invites her to see that the life to which she is being called is going to be different.

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Joy and Gladness

If you’re anything like me, you might sometimes look at others and think that they seem happier than you. They seem to be always cheerful and positive, at least on the outside. Maybe we think they’re an image of happiness and want to be like them.

Except we know also that appearances can be deceiving. Smiles sometimes mask great sadness rather than happiness. We all try to put on a brave face and keep smiling. So when someone asks “How are you?” seldom do we give an honest answer, by smiling away giving the impression of being happy, we keep them happy too.

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Advent Schizophrenia, Little Things and Charlie Bucket

This morning I want to talk a little about Advent Schizophrenia, Little things and Charlie Bucket. I want to begin with schizophrenia because for me that’s what we become in Advent. For on the one hand we’re surrounded by Christmas, indeed we had a jolly Christmas Bazaar yesterday. In contrast to that the church, in words, music and our building is saying hang on a minute, we’re not there yet.

It’s tricky living in these two worlds. Part of me feels a bit miserable if I get all humbug to the Christmas Cheer. Yet another part of me says I need Advent. I need that sense of hopeful waiting. I need some space to think about things framed by the perspective that this blessed season brings. Advent is good for me.

So perhaps what I need to do is simply accept that we’re a bit schizophrenic over the next few weeks, not being too grumpy “harrumph its not Christmas yet” nor wholly giving oneself to the party spirit as if there’s nothing to be said for waiting. But how?

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