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Monday, 19 December 2016

Century Plant: A change is coming

Here is my homily from today's lunchtime Eucharist at St Martin-in-the-Fields:

The Nativity Story contains several examples of God bringing change to people in old age. This story of a child for Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1. 5-25), together with Simeon and Anna recognising the Christ-child when he is presented at the Temple (Luke 2. 22 - 38).

In both instances, the long-awaited event occurs at the end of the live of those involved. These are stories of faithfulness over a lifetime, of belief sustained despite disappointment and of new life occurring in old age.

The singer-songwriter Victoria Williams has a song called 'Century Plant' in which she recounts stories of people whose lives changed significantly in old age, of people finding new talent and purpose which hadn't been apparent through the majority of their life.

She sums these experiences up with the image of a century plant, a cactus which only flowers once in a hundred years, to say it is never too late to make a change, to find a talent, to receive God's blessings.

The issue, as for Zechariah, is that we struggle to believe that things can be different and that change can occur. Often the further on we are in our life journey the more we keep to what we already know rather than making the most of new opportunities. The Nativity Story, as a whole - from Zechariah and Elizabeth to Simeon and Anna, suggests that change can and does come and that lives can blossom in old age, if we recognise and receive what God is already doing.


Victoria Williams - Century Plant.

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