Wednesday 14 December

Reveal among us the light of your presence, that we may behold your power and glory.

Readings (Click the links to see the readings)

Isaiah 45.6-8, 18, 21-26 | Psalm 85.8-13 | Luke 7.19-23 |

Nativity thought, 1995
Bill Stadick

They knew.
The famous always know they are watched.
They understood their positions
around the manger mattered, that even
in an unlit cranny of creation, someone
somewhere would record with pen or paint
every head tilt and cow grunt.

Mary, for example, knew. She wrinkled
her pink gown just so, joyed up her eyes just so
and squared her biceps around him just so
for the benefit of Rubens. Then she scurried
over straw for Botticelli's sake and lined up
steer, then steed, then herself, remembering
to clasp her hand just in time above the Lord-Is-Come.

Joseph also knew. He shifted with mock
stagefright from foot to foot,
glancing at the Messiah as though
he were a plastic-faced doll
because someday this would serve as model
for Sunday school pageants everywhere.

Even the holy infant knew,
as he squinched his eyes tighter
and tighter, gushing a nimbus
with museum-worthy brilliance
from his pores (Rubens would need
a light source and it might as well be him).

Taking advantage of his useless,
newborn neck muscles, the little
Lord Jesus next experimented
with a series of head flops
to be perfected at a later date
on a hill far away.

The Christian Century, 113.37, 18-25 Dec. 1996, p. 1254


Gracious God, you have done so much for us
And we so little in return
You ask for humility
And we are often a proud people
You ask for willingness
And we are often a stubborn people
You ask for repentance
And we are often a deaf people
You ask for service
And we are often a busy people
Gracious God, you want the best for us
Teach us obedience
Grant us forgiveness
That we, like Mary
Might be your willing servants. Amen.

P. Solomon Raj, India, Nativity, 1980s. Batik.

Les anges dans nos campagnes. Les Petits Chanteurs à la Croix de Bois at Sejong Art Center, Korea, 9 December 2011.



2010-2020 is the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification.


Everyone seems to be amazed that the Pope is tweeting—and there was a news story the other day about bishops in England using Twitter for their Christmas messages. The surprise reminds me of the way people pretend to be astonished when clergy admit to having heard the occasional rude word (never mind clergy actually using them…) or having watched a soap. It's taken for granted that we're far too unworldly for all this.

Even speaking as someone who struggles with any kind of technology, I don't think it should be assumed that all my fellow clergy are or ought to be as dim as I am in this area. And I don't buy into the panic that sometimes gets stirred up about social media and electronic communication. OK, we all know it can be poisonous and destructive at times. But there's another side to it.

In the aftermath of the earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, one student, Sam Johnson, put out a call through Twitter for help in clearing up after the earthquake and doing some basic rescue work. Thousands of students from all the way across New Zealand turned up and spent weeks and months in Christchurch doing essential work and getting a community on its feet again.

When I visited Christchurch a few weeks ago, I met Sam and some of the others involved—and actually got to speak at a rock concert that had been laid on free of charge to celebrate all this achievement. Rock concerts and archbishops are at least as unlikely a combination as Twitter and the Pope, I realise. But what an occasion—a real witness to what small initiatives can turn into.

Well, Christmas is God's small initiative—a single baby, whose destiny is to change the entire world. If we find that hard to believe, I wonder if it makes it a bit easier when we think of what small initiative like Sam's can do?
—Rowan Williams. Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2, 18 December 2012.

May the Lord, when he comes, find us watching and waiting. Amen.

Prayers used in this 2016 Advent Calendar are © John Birch, 2016, at and used with permission under a Creative Commons Licence.
St Philip's Anglican Church, corner Moorhouse and Macpherson Streets, O'Connor, ACT 2602