The Archbiship of Canterbury has made a short 2-minute film, encouraging people to pray
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Our contribution to the Girton Parish News...
I particularly enjoy short stories, perhaps because my time for recreational reading is limited, and also because the writing of short stories tends to be sharp and well focussed. Often, the plot of a short story is relatively simple; what brings the story to life are the detailed descriptions of context and the interaction between the characters – their reactions to circumstances, to each other, to the places they encounter. The other great art to story writing is building up a sense of tension or suspense as the plot unfolds. Without a sense of anticipation the crux of the story seems flat and unremarkable.
The Bible contains a lot of narrative. One of the best narratives is the Christmas Story, written about in different ways by each of the four evangelists. Luke is probably my favourite author because of his ability to tell an atmospheric story. He carefully crafts the narrative, building suspense and giving us a flavour of the characters and predicaments of the leading protagonists.
Luke’s narrative of the birth of the Christ child includes some beautiful poetry, not least from Zechariah (John the Baptist’s father), and from Mary, the mother of Jesus. Both of these poems build a sense of expectation and wonder at God’s next move.
Mary is sent to stay for a while at the house of Zechariah the priest and Elizabeth, her relatives living in the hill country. On her arrival, both women are filled with the Holy Spirit and Mary’s bursts into a peon of praise. Mary’s song, (sometimes know as The Magnificat), is a burst of joy.
The song has some very memorable lines:
The Lord “has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1: 51-54).
For me, these verses provide much food for thought in the month leading up to Christmas. There are many different ways of interpreting this song, but I like the interpretation that suggests nothing less than revolution in the coming of Jesus:
- Personal and moral revolution; the removal of pride and conceit. Underlying this song is the acknowledgement that all revolutions start with the transformation of the individual.
- Social revolution; that all are of equal worth in the sight of God.
- Economic revolution; sharing the resources that we have.
These words revealed Mary’s awareness of the social and economic disparity in the society of which she was a part. It is a song of longing, of hungering and thirsting after God’s salvation which was promised in Jesus.
As Christmas approaches, if there is any time to think and be still, perhaps join Mary in her sense of anticipation – not for turkey and tinsel, but for the justice of God’s Kingly reign breaking into the world.
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