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Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas: the centrality of the unregarded

This is my homily from last night's Service of Nine Lessons and Carols by Candlelight at St John's Seven Kings. It is a mash up of One Solitary Life and two of my meditations - Unregarded and Jesus is condemned to death. It ends with Malcolm Guite's sonnet Christmas on the edge which can be found in Sounding the Seasons:

Tonight we retell the story of a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in a town from which no good was known to come. He worked in a carpenter’s shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never travelled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself ...

In appearance he was reckoned to be without beauty or majesty, undesired. In his life, he was despised and rejected, unrecognised and unesteemed, as, while still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying his executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth – his coat. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Two entire Millennia have passed since he first was born in Bethlehem and yet all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of human beings upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

Through his birth, life, death and resurrection all that we once thought marginal to human life has been shown to be essential: the way of compassion rather than the way of domination; the way of self-sacrifice rather than the way of self; the way of powerlessness rather than the way of power; the way of serving rather than the way of grasping.

Christmas sets the centre on the edge;
The edge of town, the outhouse of the inn,
The fringe of empire, far from privilege
And power, on the edge and outer spin
Of  turning worlds, a margin of small stars
That edge a galaxy itself light years
From some unguessed at cosmic origin.
Christmas sets the centre at the edge.
And from this day our world is re-aligned
A tiny seed unfolding in the womb
Becomes the source from which we all unfold
And flower into being. We are healed,                                                                                                  The end begins, the tomb becomes a womb,
For now in him all things are re-aligned.


Evanescence - Lost In Paradise.

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