Saturday, 20 December 2014

O Antiphon - O Clavis, Key of David

O Antiphon - O Clavis 

"O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel
controlling at your will the gate of heaven:come, break down the prison walls of deathfor those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death."

O Come, O Clavis
and free your people

Locked in the darkness
of doubt
of fear

Trapped in boxes
of control
of ego

Walled in the tombs
of resentment
of 'if only'

Behind shadow doors
of left alone
of exclusion

O Clavis
O Come


Friday, 19 December 2014

O, Antiphon - O, Jesse

O, Jesse - O, Liberator

"O flower of Jesse's stem,
                    you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples;
kings stand silent in your presence;
the nations bow down in worship before you. 
Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid."

O, Jesse
From the silent deep of beginning
Earth's enveloping womb
Breaking free, unwinding 
Roots clasping rock
Light seeking Light 
Breaking free
Earth and air 
water of life
Breaking free
Branch and twig
Leaf and bud
Sun flowering
Moon ripening 
Star bursting 
The harvest is sown 
with a single seed
O, Jesse


Thursday, 18 December 2014

O Antiphon - O Adonai

O Adonai - O Lord

"O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free."

O, Come 
O, Adonai

Creating God
Revealing God
Sending God
Leading God
Guiding God
Calling God
Whispering God
Silent God

O, Ancient
Surrounding God
Saving God
Shielding God
Freeing God 

O, Sacred
Whose word is Law
Whose Law is Love
Whose servant am I
O Adonai
O, Come.


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

O, Antiphon - Wisdom

O Wisdom, 
flowing from the mouth of the Most High; 
reaching far and wide, 
disposing of all things sweetly and mightily. 
Come teach us the way of prudence.

Sofia,  beautiful -  skin deep; 

heart deep; blood deep; gut deep.

The beauty of a crone; shining wisdom; 

flowing compassion; crafting prudence.

Sofia, midwife of hope; knowing beyond; seeing within. 

Tasting the humours on her tongue; 

ferric blood; salty tears.

Sofia, counting the quickening in her heartbeat;

Holding the moon in her embrace;

Calling Hope in her song.

O, Come...O, Come.


Sunday, 14 December 2014


Sunday Gospel
John 1:6-8,19-28

A man came, sent by God.
His name was John.
He came as a witness,
as a witness to speak for the light,
so that everyone might believe through him.
He was not the light,
only a witness to speak for the light.

This is how John appeared as a witness.
When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared,
but he declared quite openly,
‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked
‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said.
‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’
So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied:

a voice that cries in the wilderness:
Make a straight way for the Lord.’

Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

Perhaps it is something in the delivery. After the energising, immediacy of Mark's Gospel beginning last week, here we listen to something that has the repetition of a legal argument. Not the typical poetic stanzas of John but the deliberate reworking of the same declaration - I am not the one.

John was impressive though. A rebel with a cause, turning his back on the priestly clan he was born into to become a desert wanderer, a prophet, a witness. Raging at the walls of Herod's palace or rejecting the rituals of the Temple, John has something 'superhuman' about him. No-one is out to kill him - yet. Or even silence him. John, in an Old Testament, 'change or else' sort of way, makes sense. One of God's own angels, a messenger filled with the Spirit, showing signs that the people were waiting for.

There is something in the priests and Levites questioning that suggests that if John had answered 'yes' he would have been believed.

John knows better. Knows that, not only is he not the one, he is less than a slave compared to him. Clearly, given Jesus' view on service, John has no sense of who he is setting the scene for. And nor should he. All those old titles have been stood up, used up and often given up.

It's been a while since I used a movie in a reflection. The latest science fiction epic 'Interstellar' is awash in metaphor that could speak about courage and trust, love and uncertainty, metaphors of Advent itself. There is a phrase used more than once to justify both journey and sacrifice - Newton's Third Law - that to move forward always means that you leave something behind. John knows he is going to be left behind. John and the rest of the prophetic world that the Pharisees, the priests and the Levites believe that they are in control of. John is willing to make the sacrifice, to break through the ties himself, if need be, to make the way straight for the Lord.

'Interstellar' portrays an experience of a new universe with five dimensions where humanity will, one day, exist. John's mission is to be a witness to a world that does not yet exist. The Incarnation is also revelation. The Gospel writer, John, has reminded us that Jesus is the Word. The Divine that holds all dimensions in creative tension. In Jesus, the Divine enters the world enfleshed. And not riding on clouds of thunder but from the belly of a woman. A helpless child, filled with the Spirit, born of Love. A Light that will answer all  questions and overcome all doubt.


Sunday, 7 December 2014

Make way

Sunday Gospel
Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah:

Look, I am going to send my messenger before you; he will prepare your way.

A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.

and so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. In the course of his preaching he said, ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’

This year the Confirmation group was blessed with several, very bright, scientific agnostics/atheists who had come along with a different sense of conversion in mind. Studying for their Religious Studies examinations meant that they had to address non-Christian beliefs about creation and I had to agree with them that the standard Christian response of 'because we say so' and 'that's what faith is about' was an inadequate argument - even if that's what it said in the textbook. So we talked about all the wonderful scientific discoveries that had been made over the last few hundred years. It was about the time Rosetta had reached the comet way out in space and there accident-prone but determined Philae had been sniffing and tasting her way around the surface. Who could doubt where the real power truly lay? Who could argue with science?

The next week I brought along a sheaf of six closely typed sheets of paper. A quick Google search had resulted in hundreds of names of Christian scientists and mathematicians involved in everything from the Big Bang to genetics to quantum physics to theories of evolution. Priests, religious orders, ministers and laypeople who faith had been strengthened by reaching out in wonder. People who knew that real power lay out beyond their own ego.

How could we ever imagine that we are not part of an eternal re-discovering? Never mind sci-fi movies and string theories, we live a faith where time is an ocean of connecting currents.

Only last month we spent our time in communion with those who have died and gone before us into another dimension that we call Heaven. And we believe. Each Mass we celebrate the eternal sharing of Jesus. Time folding and layering with each sharing of the Real Presence. Witnessing a change that cannot be seen but can be experienced. And we believe. Everyday people lay claim to miracles of healing and rescue beyond our understanding. And whilst we seek to understand, we still believe.

Mark's gospel has no time for an infant narrative. That Jesus is a man is not to be tested - there are living witnesses who can give this assurance. This is the 'what we know'. What Mark wants us to know is that Jesus is the Son of God - there in the first verse his statement of intent that is qualified many chapters later by a 'non-believer', the centurion at the foot of the cross.

In Advent, Mark draws those who are unwillingly to accept the status quo. He draws those who unable to continue following the rules that seem set in stone.

Mark takes the scripture that is already hundreds of years old and moves it on. Scripture has evolved into a man - the adult John, an anomaly in his own priestly family. And a man discounted by birth - Jesus, the Nazarene. These two, sent into orbit only months apart are about to collide. A new creation is on the horizon.

Whilst, somewhere in the east, astronomer friends are watching the skies and plotting a course to Bethlehem.


Sunday, 30 November 2014

Travelling home

Gospel Mark 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come. It is like a man travelling abroad: he has gone from home, and left his servants in charge, each with his own task; and he has told the doorkeeper to stay awake. So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn; if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!’

Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of the Gospels; the oldest and, in many ways, the most down to earth. It doesn't seem to have the agenda that the Jewish Matthew puts on his or the Gentile Luke on his. It’s a fast paced Gospel to read – perhaps the memories of Peter; a straightforward man. So this End of Days chapter is not really about the End but about the Now.

My relationship with Jesus, has grown stronger by the reality of his humanity. I have a relationship with the type of person he is to me. I often pray to him as a brother - as he tells us to, and feel comfortable with the idea – although, obviously the most ideal of brothers.

And that can be a problem – that we forget that Jesus always carries within him that otherness that is God; that is as much him as his humanity. The Incarnation isn't a body going spare with God in it – he is God made Man. And so his mission isn't just three years of walking and talking; it isn't just the healing and feeding; it isn't even ‘just’ the trial and the crucifixion. He is already looking ahead; to the ‘what happens next’ – for each and every one of us.

And that is it; Jesus is, was, will be the Word. Whatever led to his presence on earth, the Word was, is always here. He has his place in the Trinity, pointing always to the Father, encouraging trust in the Holy Spirit.

His living ministry plants seeds, makes wine and bakes bread; feeds the hearts of those who want to build this Kingdom. And that Kingdom needs to grow, knowing that the world is against it. It needs to grow strong, knowing that the world is devious and will try to overcome it. It needs to grow in love, knowing that the world needs it.

That is our task and it is not easy; we are warned not to be fooled by an imagined future because every day is a time of harvest and who knows when it will be our time to be weighed. 

The Gospel suggests that this coming was within the disciples lifetime and that was hard enough. We have spent two thousand years listening, watching, guarding – and for what? We have given ourselves a clue. Advent - Adventus - Coming. We stay awake for the signs of portents of God's presence on earth. We are on guard for those sons and daughters of Man who reveal God in themselves. We remember that we are the doorkeepers to a renewal of the Salvation story that begins with a baby's cry. And who would want to sleep then?