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Showing posts from January, 2017

Baptism of Christ: The 1st Sunday of Epiphany

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Jesus often surprised people. He did not conform to what people expected of him. In his first appearance as an adult in the gospel accounts he joined the repentant sinners asking to be baptised in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. John wanted to prevent this happening. He recognised that Jesus did not need this, but Jesus quietly insisted that it should be so. He is indeed Emmanuel, God-with-us, fully human and humbly identifying with humanity.

Matthew's Gospel tells the story of Jesus' baptism like this:
"Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting …

Feast of Epiphany: wise men still searching

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6 January is the Feast of the Epiphany which starts the Epiphany season which follows the 12 days of Christmas which ended yesterday.

The celebration on 6th January focuses on the story in Matthew's Gospel of strange outsiders from the east, the magi, people obsessed by study and interpretation of the movements of planets and stars. They followed the direction of a new star, expecting to find a new special king. What they found was a toddler with his parents, in an ordinary house in Bethlehem, on what was presumably for Mary, Joseph and their son Jesus, an ordinary day. And they were overwhelmed with joy.

Something wonderful was revealed to those mysterious strangers that the locals didn't see. They experienced an 'epiphany', a moment of revelation. They glimpsed the glory of God in the face of the child Jesus. You can read the story in Matthew's gospel here and you might notice that unlike most nativity plays there are no camels, no kings, no stable and the number o…

9th Day of Christmas

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It was no surprise that today, the 9th day of Christmas my true love did not give me '9 ladies dancing' as did the lover in the song 'The 12 Days of Christmas'. So I will be content with this beautiful image of Indian dancing instead.

If you go along with the idea that the song 12 Days of Christmas was once used as an aid for basic Christian instruction, then the '9 ladies dancing' may represent the 9 attributes of Christian living that are the fruit of the Holy Spirit. 

The 9 virtues, or aspects of the 'fruit of the Spirit' are listed by St Paul in his letter to the Galatians like this:
"...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things." Galatians 5: 22 - 23 (NRSV)
There would be so much more joyful dancing in the world if that sort of fruit was cultivated.

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to produce such fruit in those who 'live by …

Happy New Year

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Happy New Year to all who read this today 1 January 2017. What exactly is  'Happy New Year'? Does it happen by chance or can we do something to make it 'happy'?
Here's a recipe from an anonymous source for a Happy New Year.
Recipe for a Happy New Year
Take twelve fine, full-grown months; see that these are thoroughly free from old memories of bitterness, rancour and hate, cleanse them completely from every clinging spite; pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness; in short, see that these months are freed from all the past—have them fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of Time. Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot this way) but prepare one day at a time.

Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work, (some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavor of the rest), hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, rest (…