TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: Love, Joy and Peace for Christmas

The myst’ry is this Christ is among you, Christ your hope and glory
The myst’ry is this Christ is among you, how rich the ways of God.

The myst’ry is this Christ is among you, Christ your hope and glory
The myst’ry is this Christ is among you, how rich the ways of God

These words formed part of the ritual at Lochinvar on Sunday as the participants in the Tenison Woods Education Centre's Christian Formation Course were presented with their Certificates of Achievement or Statements of Participation for Year 2. I thought it reflected powerfully the week we are now in and it would be my hope that this is your experience on Christmas Day and the days that follow, as you gather with family and friends, and participate in a Christmas Mass.

Last week I found myself talking about angels. I am indeed blessed to find myself immersed in the life of our church and so it is not uncommon for me to go to bed with a full head only to wake in the morning with some plan hatched while I was sleeping. I have begun to refer to this as the angels being busy with me while I am resting.

So the readings at the end of last week and on Sunday speak powerfully of angels and their message from God. On Thursday we have the angel of the Lord appearing to Joseph in a dream, and when he awoke he did as the angel had told him, he took Mary as his wife. On Friday, in the reading from the book of Judges, we have the angel of the Lord appearing to a woman, announcing that she would have a son and she would call him Samson. It recounts how the child grew and the Lord blessed him; and the spirit of the Lord began to move him. This first reading was followed by the Gospel reading from Luke, in which the angel of the Lord, Gabriel, announces to Zechariah that his wife, Elizabeth will conceive and give birth to a son, whom they will name John. And then on Saturday and Sunday, we read once again in the Gospel, how the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary announcing that she would give birth to a son whom she would name Jesus.

We have been listening to many traditional Christmas Carols over the past few weeks and many of those refer to a heavenly host of Angels – ‘Angels we have heard on high.... Gloria in excelsis deo’. So I wonder where you are in relationship to Angels and the messages they give to you.

I am hoping that during the year those of us who work at the Diocesan Offices have been listening to the voice of angels and responding with our human gifts and frailties. In my mind, I know we are there to serve the parishes, and in ministries that cannot be directly linked to parishes, such as CatholicCare and the various Chaplaincies.... I certainly invite all of us to participate in this deep listening, so we collectively hear the voice of God crying out to us. This would be my wish for 2015.

I finish this last message of the year with two items of reflection, firstly, the Prayer of the Faithful which was part of Bishop’s Staff Mass on Friday – these were beautifully put together by Tracey Edstein and I found them powerful, and thought you may like to pray them in these last days before Christmas, followed by a beautiful reflective poem.

END OF YEAR STAFF MASS 2014 - PRAYER OF THE FAITHFUL

Bishop Bill As we wait and prepare for the coming of the Kingdom, we offer our prayers, in confidence to our listening and merciful God.
Reader The candle lit during the first week of Advent is the Prophet's Candle. We pray for the leaders of our parishes, our church, our nation and our world. They are called to be prophets who read the signs of the times and discern a way forward that respects the dignity and well being of all. We pray to the Lord.
All Lord, hear our prayer.
Reader The candle lit during the second week of Advent is the Bethlehem Candle. We pray for those who have given birth, and for those who bring to birth initiatives that change our lives for the better. We pray for new parents, and for those whose dream of parenthood has not been realised. We pray to the Lord.
All Lord, hear our prayer.
Reader The candle lit during the third week of Advent is the Shepherd's Candle. We pray for those who care for – support – shepherd – those around them. We remember particularly our own CatholicCare staff who are at the coalface of care, bringing real hope to those they serve.
All Lord, hear our prayer.
Reader The candle lit during the fourth week of Advent is the Angel's Candle. We pray for those who herald good news: teachers, preachers, broadcasters, writers and artists. May the good news of your coming offer an alternative to the news that drains us of energy and hope. We pray to the Lord.
All Lord, hear our prayer.
Bishop Bill God of all hope, the Christmas the Christ Candle will remind us, not only that Christ and the kingdom are coming, but that you remain with us, inviting us to live life to the full. We ask that you hear and answer all our prayers. Amen.

The following is a poem by John of the Cross which you may like to read aloud slowly, meditatively, resting in the awareness of Presence within your own soul’s womb.

If
you want
the Virgin will come walking down the road
pregnant with the holy
and say,

“I need shelter for the night, please take me inside your heart,
my time is so close.”

Then, under the roof of your soul, you will witness the sublime
intimacy, the divine, the Christ
taking birth
forever,

as she grasps your hand for help, for each of us
is the midwife of God, each of us.

Yes there, under the dome of your being does creation
come into existence externally, through your womb, dear pilgrim—
the sacred womb of your soul,

as God grasps our arms for help; for each of us is
His beloved servant
never
far.

If you want, the Virgin will come walking
down the street pregnant
with Light and
sing . . .

“If You Want” by St. John of the Cross, translated by Daniel Ladinsky,
Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West

So let us give birth to the Christ-child this Christmas Day and carry the child deep within for others to see and touch.

Thank you to all of you for the wonder of you and for being bold enough to stay connected to the Mystery. Thanks to all of the wonderful people who work/minister with me in Pastoral Ministries. Their motivation lies in Jesus the incarnation of God and in spreading this Good News to all.

Love, Joy and Peace for Christmas and 2015.

Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

Teresa Brierley is the Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

comments powered by Disqus