Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Manse musings: Starwards

At some point yesterday I stopped and thought 'gosh, I've now been here for 8 weeks!'
Time is an odd thing: in some ways it feels like I've been around for ages - in a good way! - and in others, well, I'm still very new here.  Getting to know people, getting to know the geography, has been great fun and I look forward to continuing to do both over the course of the new year that we're about to enter.

Thinking more specifically of time in relation to our recent services over Advent, Christmas, and now Christmastide, we've:
*focused upon the promise of the coming Messiah over Advent, and wondered about hope, love, joy, and peace as we lit our Advent candles
*spent time reflecting on those loved and missed at our first 'longest night', or 'Blue Christmas' service
*found ourselves walking through the doors of church and into a stable on the 4th Sunday of Advent, for a more all-age interactive service.  And, after the waiting time of Advent, snuck in a few carols...
*enjoyed mulled wine and mince pies before celebrating the birth of the Christ-child at our Watchnight service
*followed Watchnight, on the Sunday, with a service of lessons and carols.

Truly a season of Good News as, like Mary, we've pondered in our hearts the miracle of the One born in the manger.

So many people have given their time and used their various skills, gifts, and talents in the course of this season of the Church year: from crafts to construction, welcome and hospitality, to readers and musicians and candle-lighters, to listening and looking out for one another.  Kindness, generosity, vision, and good humour have mingled as folk have joined in, and enjoyed, and been blessed by each other.  The Body of Christ here on earth working together in such great ways: is also good news.

This week, the season of Christmas draws to a close with Epiphany, a time in which we think of walking starwards - walking with the Magi as they followed the star to Bethlehem.  At this beginning point in the year, how might we continue to look up, to see the star, and focus upon the One who is, as others have said, the 'reason for the season'?

To help our reflections as a community and individually, and keep us walking starwards over the course of the coming year I'm shamelessly borrowing an idea from a friend:
we'll be distributing star words during the service.
Literally, it does what it says on the tin - each star shape will have a different word on it.  You might stick your star on the refrigerator, put it on a mirror, or use it as a bible-marker - whatever best works for you.  When you look at it over these next days, weeks, months - and even year, think of the word you've been given: how does it relate to your own spiritual journey towards God?
What are some things about the word that are cause for rejoicing, or a reminder to help stay God-focused?
An example: if you received the star word 'kindness', you might reflect upon:
*times when you've experienced what felt like the kindness of God
*and...or/ the kindness of others
*and...or/ times when you have been kind to others
*and...or/ think about what makes a kind act or word
*and...or/ how many times can you find the word 'kindness' in scripture
*and related to that: how is God's loving-kindness shown in scripture -
*think of bible stories, or psalms that highlight God's kindness...

Over the time, should you make use of this particular spiritual tool, I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts over a cuppa!
In the meantime, remembering the words from scripture, as we journey starwards together this year:
'Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you...lift up your eyes and look about you'  Isaiah 60:1, 4