Friday 16 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 56.1-8 | Psalm 67 | John 5:33-56 |

Christmas poem
Charles Hughes

This house I have stands deep.
Dimensionless in me.
Here I can sing and weep.
Here God can come to be.

Flimsy as an old stable.
It's a porous place to dwell.
I've proved hopelessly unable
To seal it off from hell.

The Holy Innocents
Are growing every day
In number. Someone repents
And, turning, turns away.

This house I have stands deep.
Dimensionless in me.
Keep Christmas here. Child.
Keep Your weakness bright to see.

The Christian Century, 132.25, 9 Dec. 2015, p. 36


Creative God, breath of all life
Through whom all things
are created and sustained;
all sons and daughters
flocks and herds,
all birds of the air
and fish of the sea
You walked this earth
as child and Creator
You touched the soil
quenched your thirst
embraced this world
brought life and light
love and laughter
into dark and death-filled lives
Creative God, breath of all life
Through whom all things
are created and sustained
We bring to you our sacrifice
of a contrite and willing heart.

Hugo van der Goes (Flemish). Detail from the Portinari Triptych, 1476-8, Uffizi Museum, Florence.

Arnold Schoenberg. Weihnachtsmusik (Christmas Music)

16 December 2016 is the fiftieth anniversary of the UN General Assembly's adoption of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (although it did not come into force until 3 January 1976). Australia ratified the covenant in 1980.


You know Christmas is coming when the papers begin to fill up with stories of well-meaning and cloth-headed persons trying to avoid the terrible threat represented by mentioning the Christian origins of Christmas (the clue is in the name…). It is so obviously offensive to be reminded that singing about peace and goodwill started two millennia ago, for a very particular reason, on a hillside in Bethlehem.

The delicate and sensitive public—impervious to industrial levels of cinematic violence and internet trolling—has to be protected from this appalling truth. …

Those who can remember the Lord's Prayer will recall that in addition to words of worship and aspiration related to God, it contains the hope that there will be food and well-being for all, that we may learn not to think all the time in terms of what is owed to us but of what we might do to release others from guilt and debt; and that we may not be tested by life beyond what we can bear.

Yes, it encodes a philosophy of life—one that a lot of us would still find understandable and might even wish we could live by a bit more consistently. It is a philosophy shaped by the conviction that we are most human when least obsessed with defending and promoting our self-interest and when recognising our shared human needs.…

We are so easily persuaded to panic about religion and to expect the worst. Because religious fanaticism is so much more visible now than it has been for a long time, we can assume that any and every expression of religion in the public sphere is a cause for anxiety. …

Christmas, 2,000 years ago and now, is a moment for the startling recognition that things don't have to be the way they currently are and that something else may be possible. Things such as peace and goodwill, to coin a phrase.
—Rowan Williams, 'Too many of us forget that religion is about peace and goodwill.' The Evening Standard, 7 December 2015

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