Lincoln Advent: 20 December

Advent Prayers, 20 December
Nomad Trust

O Clavis

O Key of David, sceptre of the House of Israel, what you close none shall open,
what you open none shall close: Come and free us from every prison chain.

The Virgin, weighed
with the Word of God,
comes down the road:
if only you will shelter her.
(St John of the Cross)

The story of our salvation rests on a God who risks homelessness: a God who wanders the streets looking for a place to be born.

When Mary and Joseph set out for Bethlehem, they set out because they have no choice. The Census compels them: they must go. No one cares that Mary has been visited by an angel. No one cares whom she carries in her womb.

Mary and Joseph set out without knowing when their child will be born, or where. They hope that Joseph’s family will welcome them – but they know that it will be crowded, and that there has been gossip. Much may depend on who opens the door.

And sure enough: they are met with wary faces and closed doors. The Christ-child is coming, but most avert their eyes.

The truth is, when you are busy with a Census, God is not a convenient guest. The people who turned Mary and Joseph away had their reasons. They had their own lives to live. If the timing had been different … if they weren’t so very stretched… Then perhaps they would be more generous. Yes. They were sure that they would.

Our lives are not so different – our excuses much the same. We are busy. Life makes so many demands. When we are at our limits, it is hard to welcome the unexpected guest.

And yet, that is when God comes – when our lives are already too crowded, when we are not sure we can handle one thing more. God comes, and accepts where we place him: in the stable, in the corner, out the door.

God will accept where we place him – and wait until we find him there.

Today we pray for Nomad Trust, which helps homeless people grow in independence and self respect. We pray for all who find themselves wandering this Christmas, and those who provide shelter and love.

the original post is here.

Lincoln Advent: 19 December

Advent Prayers, 19 December
Youth Projects

O Radix Jesse

O root of Jesse, you stand as an ensign for the peoples:
kings shall fall silent before you and the nations shall seek you.
Come and deliver us; Delay no more.

My Soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.
(Luke 1.46-47)

Today, a Christmas card arrived with a picture of Mother and Child. Mary was looking very pleased with herself indeed, unravelling a ball of wool as the Christ-child knit intricate Christmas stockings. It was delightful and mischievous – and a thousand miles away from traditional images of Mary with her eyes lowered to show humility and obedience.

Mary was obedient – when it really mattered and she said yes to God. But if you ever doubt Mary’s courage, her ability to think for herself, or her deep tendency towards non-conformity in her love of God and justice, just consider this:

At a time when women’s freedoms were greatly limited and they were safest at home with ‘their men’; at a time when travel was tricky, and and eighty-five mile journey took ten days, Mary hitched up her skirts and scurried over mountains to get to her cousin Elizabeth. Once Gabriel had spoken and Mary said yes, Mary wanted nothing more than understanding. She knew Elizabeth had been there: bewilderingly pregnant, overjoyed and afraid.

The desire for understanding and companionship is strong. It drives us to do crazy, wild things, and never more so than when we feel alone, or when life brings us to a point that feels confusing and new. We can see Mary’s passion in her strong-willed journey to Elizabeth, in the song of justice she sings, and in her brave,‘Yes’ to God. Mary is our Mother – our role model and guide – not because of her lowered eyes and quiet acquiescence, but because of her willingness to risk everything for God.

Gregory of Nyssa says this: “We are led to God by desire, drawn to him as if pulled by a rope.” (quoted in Robert Wilkens, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, p. 300) Mary knew that, and trusted her desire – even as she trusted the promised presence of God.

Today we pray for Youth Projects across the diocese. We pray that the church will offer a place of real welcome for teenagers, so they can learn to trust themselves, act on the best of their desires, and build relationships that draw them ever closer to God.

the original post is here.