“Are you looking forward to Christmas?” our neighbour Sean asked as I was taking my daily walk on a drear Advent day. What else could I say, but yes? And then I mused. I am looking forward to Christmas. Why shouldn’t I be? So much to celebrate! The Son of God disturbing the universe by being born one of us.
I realize with hindsight that Christmas is extraordinary time. Beginning with Advent preparation, quieting down, stripping down, being more silent. Then the ritual decoration day when we cut branches and decorate with gold balls and lights and featuring the crib every important place in the house and library. On Christmas eve candles are lit the lights go on except in chapel where the darkness and darkish music by Macmillan and Tavener anticipates the dramatic moment announcing all the important moments taking place in world history when the shepherds were told by angels to rejoice and adore Magnum Mysterium. And once again Christ breaks in to our violence-rippled world. We begin with the quiet carols and build up to O Holy Night and Joy to the World.
During the next 12 days of extraordinary time we feast and celebrate with rich liturgies and in between are quiet with contentment. Candles and twinkling lights, the smell of evergreens and the gracefulness of ivy. So many significant liturgies– beginning with Stephen who calls us back to the world which rejects the good news and lusts for blood instead. Then John, the mystic, and the Holy Innocents and Mary, the Mother of God all culminating with the Epiphany when the whole world is invited to the stable and we get to relive the mystery in larger and deeper terms.
During this high time we are privileged to welcome Fr. John Udris who is spiritual director and teacher of homiletics at the seminary in Birmingham. On Epiphany he draws us into the scene by teaching us how to be led by inspiration to the just-right place. We invite you to enjoy his message.
The season ends with the Baptism of Jesus. Fr. Robert Bulbrook, our chaplain whose experience of Parish life, whole knowledge of Scripture and Theology, and now Carmel continue to inspire us, preached for this transition back to ordinary time. Now we are invited to give site to the blind!
And now it’s ordinary time. The dull hum-drum days when we barely bear our humanity gladly. The ordinary and extraordinary demands made on us. The ordinary decision about whether to follow my preference or my inspiration. The little decisions that determine the leaning of my love. And Jesus continues to break in through Eucharist. Jesus looks at us and longs to possess us.