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Christmas Reflections 2023
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In this online Christmas reflection, we are going to interweave music, readings and a reflection as we celebrate the coming of Christ this Christmas time. As you read the biblical texts of the Christmas narrative I invite you to listen for an inner stirring that may arise with maybe just one of the symbols in the story, and spend some time reflecting on this in quiet receptivity.

 

Opening music: O come O come Immanuel (sung by Enya)

Reflection

Length: 9 minutes

Music: When a child is born (sung by Sinead O’Connor and Danny O’Reilly)

Reading 1: How the Light Comes

 

The following track is a reading of the poem "How the Light Comes", by Jan Richardson, accompanied by the music "First Light" by Lisa Lynne. You can read the words of the poem below:

How the light comes reading with music
00:00 / 02:38
How the Light Comes

I cannot tell you how the light comes.

What I know is that it is more ancient than imagining.

That it travels across an astounding expanse to reach us.

That it loves searching out what is hidden,

what is lost, what is forgotten or in peril or in pain.

That it has a fondness for the body,

for finding its way toward flesh,

for tracing the edges of form,

for shining forth through the eye, the hand, the heart.

I cannot tell you how the light comes, but that it does.

That it will.

That it works its way into the deepest dark that enfolds you,

though it may seem long ages in coming or arrive in a shape you did not foresee.

And so may we this day turn ourselves toward it.

May we lift our faces to let it find us.

May we bend our bodies to follow the arc it makes.

May we open and open more and open still

to the blessed light that comes.

—Jan Richardson

Music: O little town of Bethlehem  (sung by Sarah McLachlan)

Reading 2: Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called  the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be with me as you have said.”

Music: O holy night  (sung by Tracy Chapman)

Reading 3: Luke 2:1-7

 1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. …  3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Music: Silent night  (sung by Eva Cassidy)

Reading 4: Luke 2:8-20

 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Music: What child is this  (sung by Alanis Morisette)

Ending prayer

Christ our Lord, Emmanuel,

You breathe your Holy Spirit upon us like a gentle breeze and tell us: 'Peace be yours.'

Opening ourselves to your peace,

letting it penetrate the hard and rocky ground of our hearts,

means preparing ourselves to be bearers of reconciliation wherever you may place us.

So come and lead us to wait in silence, to let a ray of hope shine through in our world.

Amen

~ Brother Roger of Taize

Ending music: Peace Child (Sung by the Indigo Girls)

Listen to this song as a prayer for peace, and let us hold in our hearts those who are devastated by war, loss and homelessness, praying a blessing for peace this Christmas time.

Lyrics:

Peace child
In the sleep of the night
In the dark before light
You come, you come
In the silence of stars
In violence of wars
Savior, your name

Peace child
To the world and the storm
To the gun and the bomb
You come, you come
Through the hate and the hurt
Through the hunger and dirt
Bearing a dream

Peace child
To our dark and our sleep
To the conflict we weep
Now come, now come
Be your dream born alive
Held hope, wrapped in love
God's truth
Shalom

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Sharon's book that was previously called "Contemplative Living" has been republished by AnamChara Books under the title "Deeper: Finding the Depth Dimension Beneath the Surface of Life". The Kindle version is available from Amazon, and the hard copy version can be ordered from loot.co.za or from your local bookshop through Ingram Distribution.

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