With hours remaining in the year, time comes to reflect upon the journey of the past 12 months, and to contemplate the year ahead. Not one to make "resolutions", I appreciate the importance of dwelling for reflection on the last year.
Our journey as a church community has taken some important steps forward...
Always tentative, though knowing we could not continue with the way things were, it took significant courage to adopt a new name, a new constitution, and to continue in perseverance with the things we had begun. The promise which came to us as a community early in 2003 as we studied Ezekiel: "things shall not remain as they are" (21:26) has continued to encourage us as we have stretched ourselves in new directions. We end the year with a renewed sense of encouragement, with new foundations on which to build as we enter 2005.
We are thankful for the growing bonds with our local community, and for the relationship we share with Bharoshaphur in Bangladesh. It is a privilege to support chaplaincy ministry into the Royal Childrens Hospital, and in other areas. It is our ongoing prayer that God will use us in our groping and tentative endeavours to serve him as 21st century people.
May the New Year be filled with the very best that God can give.
One's mind has difficult getting itself around the magnitude of the disaster in the wake of the tsunami. With a death toll continuing to rise, and forecast beyond 100,000 - not accounting for the many more who will die from disease as a result of the collapse of infrastructure, this a numbness hard to shake.
There is, underneath the numbers, an immeasurable volume of human pain. Who can understand? Yet, somehow, God is present in the midst...
Our Sunday night reflection on the Slaughter of the Innocents in the Gospel Birth Narratives holds a new poignancy. Image of the Week provides a doorway into this reflection.
Today we welcomed a new member into our family, courtesy of a Christmas gift to our daughter R. An 8-week-old ginger-and-white bundle of purrs has already wormed its way into our hearts, and been the centre of attention.
I am not sure who is having more trouble getting to sleep: the kitten, or our daughter!
Our two sons opened their first bank accounts today. It was a long process for them. It made our oldest C feel like he was maturing. S, our youngest, was more interested in the computer screen and the "Start" key. S has a fascination with these things, spending too much time fiddling with the start menu and other settings on our home computer. He has caused me more technological headaches than Windows itself!
I remember opening my own first account. It is a milestone in a child's journey.
We have been busy over recent days taking account of all our friends who are in the regions affected by the tsunami. This is a disaster which has probably left few nations of the world untouched in one way or another, given the tourist areas impacted.
We have posted a prayer on our notice board outside the church which reads "Out of the chaos, may peace and hope be born anew."
It is a disaster of a magnitude hard to grasp. Reports of the earth shaking on its axis as a result are a cause of wonder. I know that many communities have had more than this occur.
"I am cursed with a long life"
These words of 70-year-old Jayanta Lakshmi, uttered following the death of her only son and twin grandsons in Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, India are a poignant symbol of the unfolding tragedy engulfing millions of people.
At our Christmas and Boxing Day services, we turned our attention to the forgotten half of the birth narratives. Our traditional celebrations end with the arrival of the magi, and ignore the persecution which prompted the flight to Egypt and the slaughter of the children. Hardly the stuff of carols and tinsel - the glitzy and romantic view of Christmas. Why are these elements included by the gospel writers as part of the birth narrative, and why do we ignore them?
We are using the following prayer to open our Christmas Eve service tonight.
You come to us, O Lord
Into our poverty comes your wealth
Into our emptiness comes your fullness
Into our ugliness comes your beauty
Make us ready to open ourselves to you.
Break down the walls
Behind which we hide ourselves.
Quench the fear that burns in us.
It could also be reversed to reflect the Christmas story:
Into our notions of wealth you came in poverty
Into our notions of fullness you came empty
Into our sense of beauty you came with nothing to attract...
If we were planning the birth of a saviour, we'd probably have gone about it in a vastly different manner.
One's first words in a blog - what are we looking for?
Sitting at the keyboard to make a first entry to one's blog is a unique experience, evoking the question, "How does one begin?" I suspect that it is like the first words of a child: first framed while lying alone in the crib, playing with sounds. Just seeing what works. Hopefully in time the art of expressing oneself, and conversation, begins.