Daily Archives: December 24, 2017

Poetry for Christmas Eve: T. S. Eliot – Journey Of The Magi – Alec McCowen

Listen to and ponder it all–more than once.

Posted in Christmas, Poetry & Literature

A Prayer for Christmas Eve

O Lord God Almighty, Who by the incarnation of Thy only-begotten Son hast banished the darkness of this world, and by His glorious birth didst enlighten this most holy night: drive away from us, we beseech Thee, the darkness of sin, and continue ever to enlighten our hearts with the glory of Thy grace, which Thou hast given unto us in the same, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Christmas, Spirituality/Prayer

Karl Barth on Christmas–A Real Closing of the Breach

God with us means more than God over or side by side with us, before or behind us. It means more than His divine being in even the most intimate active connection with our human being otherwise peculiar to Him. At this point, at the heart of the Christian message and in relation to the event of which it speaks, it means that God has made himself the one who fulfills his redemptive will. It means that He Himself in His own person at His own cost but also on His own initiative has become the inconceivable Yet and Nevertheless of this event, and so its clear and well-founded and legitimate, its true and holy and righteous Therefore. It means that God has become man in order as such, but in divine sovereignty, to take up our case. What takes place in the work of inconceivable mercy is, therefore, the free overruling of God, but it is not an arbitrary overlooking and ignoring, not an artificial bridging, covering over or hiding, but a real closing of the breach, gulf and abyss between God and us for which we are responsible. At the very point where we refuse and fail, offending and provoking God, making ourselves impossible before Him and in that way missing our destiny, treading under foot our dignity, forfeiting our right, losing our salvation and hopelessly compromising our creaturely being at that very point God Himself intervenes as man.

Church Dogmatics (IV.1) [E.T. By Geoffrey Bromiley and Thomas Torrance of the German Original] (London: T and T Clark, 1956), page 12

Posted in Uncategorized

Music for Christmas Eve–O Magnum Mysterium – Morten Lauridsen

O magnum mysterium, et admirabile sacramentum, ut animalia viderent Dominum natum, jacentem in praesepio! Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Christum. Alleluia
O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament, that animals should see the new-born Lord, lying in a manger! Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia!

Posted in Christmas, Liturgy, Music, Worship

The Homily of Pope Francis for Christmas Eve 2017–“God Has Embraced Pagans, Sinners and Foreigners, and Demands That We Do the Same” – In the “Revolutionary Tenderness” of Christmas, “A New Imagination of Love”

Mary and Joseph, for whom there was no room, are the first to embrace the One who comes to give all of us our document of citizenship. The One who in his poverty and humility proclaims and shows that true power and authentic freedom are shown in honouring and assisting the weak and the frail.

That night, the One who had no place to be born is proclaimed to those who had no place at the table or in the streets of the city. The shepherds are the first to hear this Good News. By reason of their work, they were men and women forced to live on the edges of society. Their state of life, and the places they had to stay, prevented them from observing all the ritual prescriptions of religious purification; as a result, they were considered unclean. Their skin, their clothing, their smell, their way of speaking, their origin, all betrayed them. Everything about them generated mistrust. They were men and women to be kept at a distance, to be feared. They were considered pagans among the believers, sinners among the just, foreigners among the citizens. Yet to them – pagans, sinners and foreigners – the angel says: “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11).

This is the joy that we tonight are called to share, to celebrate and to proclaim. The joy with which God, in his infinite mercy, has embraced us pagans, sinners and foreigners, and demands that we do the same.

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Pope Francis, Preaching / Homiletics

A medieval friar’s cheery carol for the end of Advent: ‘Farewell Advent, Christmas is come!’


15. This time of Christ’s feast natal,
We will be merry, great and small,
And thou shalt go out of this hall;
Farewell from us both all and some!

16. Advent is gone, Christmas is come;
Be we merry now, all and some!
He is not wise that will be dumb
In ortu Regis omnium. [At the coming of the King of all things]

Read it all from Eleanor Parker.

Posted in Advent, Christmas, Church History

(Guardian) How the Queen – the ‘last Christian monarch’ – has made faith her message

A survey of the broadcasts made during her 65-year reign reveals that for most of the time the Queen has spoken only in passing of the religious significance of Christmas. There have been references to presents linking contemporary Christmas to the three wise men, for instance, alongside trips to Commonwealth countries, family events such as weddings and funerals, and there were observations about contemporary society. In 1966, for example, she spoke of the progress of women, and in 1972, she commented on Britain joining the European Community in language that would make any Remainer proud.

But for the past 17 years, her messages have taken on a different tone, with the Queen explaining her own personal faith – “the anchor in my life”, as she described it in 2014.

Last year she said: “Billions of people now follow Christ’s teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.”

The turning point in the content of the broadcasts was the millennium. Her broadcast in 2000 was devoted to an account of Christ’s life and teaching which, she said, “provide a framework in which I try to lead my life”.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(NPR) The Foster Care System Is Flooded With Children Of The Opioid Epidemic

The U.S. foster care system is overwhelmed in part because America’s opioid crisis is overwhelming. Thousands of children have had to be taken out of the care of parents or a parent who is an addict. One of the states with the biggest one-year increase in the number of children who need foster care is Indiana. Judge Marilyn Moores heads up the Indianapolis juvenile court and joins us now from member station WFYI. Your Honor, thanks very much for being with us.

MARILYN MOORES: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: You’ve called this a tsunami. What’s happening, from where you see it?

MOORES: Well, we’ve gone from having 2,500 children in care three years ago having 5,500 kids in care. It has just exploded our systems.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Drugs/Drug Addiction

A Prayer for the Day from James Todd

O God, who didst promise that thy glory should be revealed, and that all flesh should see it together: Stir up our hearts, we beseech thee, to prepare the way of thine only begotten Son; and pour out upon us thy loving kindness, that we who are afflicted by reason of our sins may be refreshed by the coming of our Saviour, and may behold his glory; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth one God, world without end.

Posted in Advent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

–Revelation 12:1-6

Posted in Theology: Scripture