My daughter-in-law Charlotte read Carol Ann Duffy’s poem ‘Bethlehem’ at their parish Advent Carol service at the weekend. It beautifully describes the scene in that little town ‘between desert and farmland’ … ‘The Inn bulged; travellers boozed, bawled, bragged, swapping their caravan tales…. the sweating innkeeper shouted and served; his wife counting the heads, then making up beds on the flat roof, in the vine-covered yard… and Above, bright new in the sky, arrived, a star.’… Sound familiar? Is that what it’s like in your home, in your place this week, in the two days before Christmas? I find it a wonderful irony that in these last weeks, we have all been engaged in a survey, a ‘census of opinion’, having been invited by Pope Francis, to give our views on the ways in which the Church reaches out to all sorts of families in what it terms ‘regular’ or ‘irregular’ unions. The ‘irregularity’ of Mary and Joseph’s situation, and the ‘raw cry of a new life’ is not lost on us! Carol Ann Duffy concludes her poem: ‘And one wept at a miracle; another was hoping it might be so; others ran, daft, shouting, to boast in the waking streets. Wise men swayed on camels out of the East.’
There will be the same mix of responses as in the streets of Bethlehem no doubt. For some it will be their first experience of Christmas with us. And yes, there will be tears and laughter and high spirits I know. These will be deeply rooted in a natural God-given source of wonder in each of us, the openness to ‘miracle’ and ‘hope’, there from the very beginning… the wonder of love, to be cherished! I wonder, what is your hope, my hope, for those in our homes and parishes -coming home this Christmas, the regulars and irregulars? And what is their hope? How can we be open to these hopes?
Is there anything different we can offer in our approach to the celebration of the Nativity in our parish this year, in order to make what we offer together with God, something very warm, inviting, joyful, inclusive? Might it be that everyone who comes could find themselves ‘at home’, able to connect, and draw upon their own spiritual ‘wellspring’ that has little to do with words, but is more of a ‘felt’ sense, and no so much the ‘icing on the cake’ but awareness of the whole experience of being enlightened by the Morning Star, ‘radiance of eternal light’.
Happy Holy Blessed times to all visiting this blog!