Christmas Reflections 2007
rdSunday 3 February – Candlemas - Luke 2.22-40 I had a Kingdom moment this week. Over the past few months, we have set up a
new group for 10–12 year olds in the parish. On Monday we had our first outing, ice
skating on the rink at Canary Wharf. For me, the experience was gospel and iconic.
Children from one of the most deprived parts of the country were skating on the
same ice as executives from some of the biggest contributors to the global economy;
children in „hoodies‟ were skating alongside bankers in jeans and long coats – and
the image was one of harmony.
I wonder if the sentiment was similar when Mary and Joseph brought the child Jesus
to the Temple – for Mary‟s ritual purification and to „buy back‟ their first-born son? Anna and Simeon were holy – dedicated to prayer – and virtually temple dwellers. Mary and Joseph were from the rural outskirts close to Galilee: country folk. And yet,
this didn‟t stop Simeon from seeing a spiritual truth that was of ultimate significance. At Candlemas, we remember that Simeon identified Jesus as the Light of the World,
the one coming into the world to save us, and that brought him peace. This is how
Candlemas takes its name – from candles blessed to be symbols of Christ as the light
of the world, the author of peace.
Where do we find that same light today? For me it was on the ice, as two worlds met
– but where is that light for you?
A prayer from the Orthodox tradition:
Set our hearts on fire with love for you, O Christ our God, that in that flame we may
love you with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul, with all our strength,
and our neighbours as ourselves; so that keeping your commandments, we may
glorify you, the giver of all good gifts.
Curate, Parish of Poplar
thReflection for 4th Sunday of Epiphany – January 27
Sunday Gospel Reading:Matthew 4:12 -23
The call of Simon, Peter and Andrew is of course the beginning of Christian
discipleship. It is from this call that we begin to see the formation of all that will
follow. These first disciples are our forerunners and examples to all who take
the designation disciple.
The fact that they are ordinary men at work who are called out from fishing to
a new way of life is a reminder that discipleship can be costly. Each one of
these first disciples is part of the story of the early development and growth of
the Christian faith.
It is through their experience of Jesus and their individual understanding that
faith will, after the death of Jesus, be instilled in the many men and women
who will follow.
In our time we are on the whole not going to be called out to be ‘fishers of
men’, but we are called to be disciples where we live and work. Like these first
disciples it is our experience that matters, it is our faith that will underpin the
story we share with others.
It's through a working out of our discipleship that we grow closer to God and
are able to be exemplars of what it means to share the message of Jesus with
The old adage ‘that many are called, few are chosen’ is not true for disciples
are called and our task is to show that because we are chosen we have a
message to share.
Father we remember that in the call of the first disciples you were seeking
ordinary people to share your ministry. May we who follow in their steps be
given the power to speak of your love and be given the strength to share your
message with all those we meet. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
20 January 2008
Sunday Gospel Reading: John Chapter 1: verses 29-42
This Sunday falls within the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18-25 January),
which has its roots going back to the 1930s and has been observed by a great
number of churches certainly since the 1960s. The week ends on 25 January, the
Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, to show that Christian Unity is not an end in itself,
but essential for mission. Part of John Chapter 17 is often quoted where Jesus prays
that „they may all be one … that the world may believe‟, implying that Christian unity
is both God‟s gift and God‟s will. Sadly, enthusiasm for Christian unity has waned, and the week doesn‟t seem to
possess the vitality it once had. Nevertheless, I hope MiLE supporters will be praying
for Christian unity during this week. As an ecumenical organisation we are very
aware of the support we receive from the churches in all sorts of ways, indeed
extremely grateful for it. Any attempt to make Christian faith relevant to the
workplace would be greatly diminished if done strictly on denominational lines. MiLE
enjoys the mutual trust and goodwill experienced in working together, and perhaps
there are clues here that might prove useful to the wider church in seeking closer
In the gospel reading, John points Jesus out to his disciples as the „Lamb of God who
takes away the sin of the world.‟ (John 1:29). By „sin‟ John means our frequent
alienation from God, both individually and collectively, which can quickly lead on to
alienation one from another. John also shows his humility in withdrawing to allow his
disciples to transfer allegiance to Jesus now that he has come on to the scene.
Here‟s a lesson for anyone holding a leadership position at whatever level.
Breakdowns in relationships often take place when people play power games. Unity and trust usually occur when they don‟t!
God our Father,
your Son is our peace
and his cross the sign of reconciliation:
help us, who share the broken bread,
to bring together what is scattered
and to bind up what is wounded,
that Christ may bring in the everlasting kingdom of his peace;
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen.
Common Worship Postcommunion Prayer for the Peace of the World
Reflection for First after Epiphany: 13 January 2008
Sunday Gospel Reading: Matthew 3. 13-17 Through his baptism Jesus was commissioned for work. Jesus says to John the
Baptist, who questioned the need for Jesus‟ baptism, “Do it. God‟s work, putting
things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism” (The
Message). Jesus was equipped by the Spirit to carry out this work and affirmed in
the rightness of this work when the Father said, “This is my Son, chosen and marked
by my love, delight of my life.” Jesus then knew he was in a partnership with God
working to put the world to rights.
As those who follow Jesus, we are called to the same job of work and need the same
resource. Whatever our specific work role and whatever the purpose of our work
organisations, we are called to work together with God in our shared task of putting
the world to rights. Each of us can consider how our day-to-day work could
contribute to this task.
To do this we need the equipping and leading of the Spirit. Led by the Spirit, our
work can involve creativity, care and collaboration; biblical signs that work is
undertaken in partnership with God. Jesus says to us what he said to John, “Do it.
God‟s work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism.”
Lord, help me consider how I can contribute to putting the world to rights and give
your Spirit to equip and lead me in our shared task. Amen.
Reflection for Epiphany: 6 January 2008
Sunday Gospel Reading: Matthew 2: 1-12 The Archbishop of Canterbury caused a stir just before Christmas with his remarks
regarding the historicity of the story of the three wise men that we read each
Epiphany-how many were there? did they really have names and what were they?
Here at St Andrew Wimbledon we carried on regardless. For several years we have
combined our Carol Service with our children‟s service for Christmas and as usual our
Sunday School presented a nativity play. The play is always written and directed by
our teenagers and this year Helen decided to take the story of the three wise
men( narrator; three wise men-three, where on earth did they find three ).The play
began with one of the wives waiting for her husband to come in. ”What time do you call this then. What have you been doing all night?” “I‟ve been looking at the night sky-watching the stars” “Why” “It‟s my job-it‟s what I do!”
Now for 30 years I‟ve been preaching every Christmas and Epiphany about how God made the Christ – child known to the outsider, the sinner and the gentile as a
way of reminding us that the message of “ peace on earth and good news to all
“ that the angels sang about really was for all people and not an elite or for religious
people . I‟m not sure though I‟ve ever made the connection before that the
Christmas message was first shared with people in their work places! The shepherds
were outsiders and marginalised and probably ritually outside religious sensibilities.
The magi were foreigners and non Jews. But both magi and shepherds were also
people going about their daily routine at work when God erupted into their lives with
the Good News of the birth of the Christ – child . The shepherds, we are told by Luke, were out in the fields tending their sheep when an angel of the Lord stood among
them. They were at work when the encountered God. The magi see the star and
decide to follow it because they were going about their daily work of star gazing and
so encounter God.
When the church engages with the work place it is usually to offer a pastoral
ministry of support for people at work, a ministry that enables them to do their work
well but be ready for the challenges of God back in their home church each Sunday.
The Christmas story and the Epiphany which we celebrate this Sunday offers another
possibility-a prophetic challenge that we encounter God in the work place; that the
God of all things is the God of the work place and showed it by proclaiming the
coming of the Messiah to those shepherds and magi where they were. They weren‟t told that if they left their work and went to some special religious place or event they
would hear the message God wanted them to hear. No, they were given the
message there and then. God hallowed the work those shepherds and magi were
doing by challenging them at work to take the message of the birth of the Messiah
seriously. This Epiphany we are once again challenged to see the work place as a
place of God‟s hallowing and a place of encounter where God continues to erupt into
people‟s lives just as He did for those magi-however many there were and whatever they were called.
Revd Andrew Wakefield
Vicar St Andrew Wimbledon