But Mary treasured all these words… Happy Christmas!

Standard

Wishing all my readers a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Egger-Lienz_-_Madona.jpg

Here is an extract from my Christmas Day sermon:

If you truly put yourself into the nativity story, you can’t help but wonder: how did Mary cope?

Well, St Luke gives us a tiny clue in a beautiful verse. He writes that Mary ‘treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart’. I think he is referring not only to the words of the Shepherds but to the other words Mary has heard up to giving birth to Jesus.

Unlike us, Mary didn’t know the end of the story, didn’t know what was going to happen to her after she said ‘yes’ to God. So Mary clung onto the words and to the Word that she had heard as if her life depended on it. She remembered that the angel Gabriel had told her that she was highly favoured by God, she remembered, after hearing the jeers calling her a prostitute and a whore as she left Nazareth for her cousin Elizabeth’s house that the first thing that Elizabeth said to her was that she was ‘blessed among women’, and then she remembered exactly the message that the angels had passed onto the shepherds, those men with funny accents and coarse ways that stumbled into the cave – they said ‘peace on earth and goodwill to those on whom God’s favour rests’ – God’s favour – Gabriel said that God favoured me, Mary remembered, me, here in this cave a long way from home, disgraced by my village – God still favours me.

Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

Mary shows us what it is to have faith in the most dire of circumstances and there was worse to come for her. Soon after she and Joseph would have to flee to Egypt as refugees, unsure of the welcome they would receive in the country of the old enemy of their people. But Mary, throughout, must have treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. God favours me, she remembered, I am blessed among women. She chose to believe in God’s word when all the other words around her said the opposite.

So as we are on the cusp of a new year, unaware of what is to come, of the challenges and joys to come, we too should be like Mary and treasure the word of God to us, that we are loved so much, that we are welcomed, that we are included, that, yes, we are favoured by God so much that he became a vulnerable baby, come to be with us, alongside us in our difficulties and our delight. Let us treasure all these words, the Word of God, more than any other gifts we might receive today and ponder this mystery, this Christmas joy in our hearts. Amen.

 

Advertisements

Advent-ure Day 20: John 1:1-18 – This will blow your mind

Standard

Today’s reading is possibly one of the most profound pieces of Scripture in the Bible. I don’t want to try and write about this amazing piece of scripture, I’d rather let it speak for itself. So today I’d like to encourage you to try an ancient art of Bible reading called ‘lectio divina’. 

These are some guidelines taken from the Bible Society’s leaflet on Lectio Divina:

 

History

Lectio divina dates back to the early Church Fathers around 300 AD. The four steps were ???rst recorded by a monk, Guigo Cartujo, in 1173. These steps Lectio (Reading), Meditatio (Meditation), Oratio (Prayer) and Contemplatio (Contemplation) remain central today although methods di???er. 

Overview

In essence lectio divina is a simple way to meet with the Lord through re???ection and prayer based on Holy Scripture. It is not a study method. Background knowledge can be helpful but is not essential. Our aim is meeting God, not just completing the steps  themselves. So when the Lord impresses something on us we need to stop and  wait. We can always come back to the steps another time. We don’t want to lose what God is saying to us.

 

LECTIO – READING

Before you begin, ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you through His word. Read today’s passage slowly and carefully. Make a note of any words or phrases that stand out for you. Read the passage several times and if you can, read it aloud. Give yourself time to understand and appreciate what is being said.

MEDITATIO – MEDITATION

Meditation deepens our appreciation of the passage and helps us to explore its riches. Spend some time reflecting on the parts of the passage that stood out for you, asking God to reveal Himself to you.

ORATIO – PRAYER

Prayer opens up a conversation between God and us. Let the passage lead you into prayer of whatever kind – silence or praise, petition or thanksgiving.

CONTEMPLATIO – CONTEMPLATION

Contemplation gives us the opportunity for an intimate time of communion with God. Be still before God and invite him in. Few words, if any, are necessary here. Enjoy time in his presence. Just be with him and let him love you. Let him refresh your soul. 

 

 


So read this passage slowly and carefully, asking God to speak to you:

 

 

 


John 1: 1-18 –

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

 

 

 

 

 

To aid your meditation, here is a video showing the whole universe – zooming out from earth and then back again. As the video comes to a close, think about ‘the word becoming flesh to be among us’ – it will blow your mind!