..in these first few moments of this New Year God speaks to Moses, & thence Aaron, telling them how to bless the chosen sons & daughters.. 3000yrs later here & now, in this little backwater of Christendom, I am blessed to be able to bless each of you, beloved sons & daughters, & through you all your loved ones..
“May the Lord bless you & keep you May the Lord let his face shine on you & be gracious to you May the Lord uncover his face to you & bring you peace.”
A blessing which comes fully alive this New Years Day as we all gather here with our masks on.. in OT the spiritual divide between the holiness of God & the falleness of humankind was so wide that our faces had to be shielded to ensure our spiritual blemishes pimples spots skin & soul “dis-eases” didn’t threaten to contaminate the divine perfection.. wonderful episode when God was about to pass Moses, & a huge pair of hands reached down from on high, picked Moses up like a tiny cartoon figure, & put him face in to the cleft of a rock.. until God had passed by.. our faces, in covid, masked, to prevent your potential dis-ease covid & your far more threatening spiritual ailments/dis-eases infecting the rest of us..& me infecting you.. the masks denying us the shine of your face, your smile, your pleasure at being here… a moment when Our Lord will uncover his divinity to each of us as his light shines in our hearts.. to shine to heal & to widen his life love & truth in our hearts..
..& the feastday of one of us, who put heart & soul, body & womb space into the service of her Son.. Mary Mother of God..
“you rule the world with justice” ; Lord have mercy “with fairness you rule the peoples” ; Christ have mercy “you guide the nations on earth” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..simple short powerful familiar gospel story of the manger..& with a ready brek glow & with our Church beautifully decorated warm snug & cosy, we swallow 112 word gospel I have just read, hoping Fr Bede makes a New Year resolution & preaches a homily of similar length.. on Christmas night I suggested that if Fr Christmas left you a book token this Christmas you could do no better than spend it on my favourite book of 2019/20 “the boy the mole the fox & the horse” by Charlie Mackesy..this Sunday I am to recommend “letter to Daniel” written by Fergal Keane BBC correspondent..& now my third choice would be “The Nativity” BBC dvd produced by Tony Jordan in 2010. A lapsed Catholic, like Fergal Keane, our beloved Herdwicks, when asked to bring to life to birth a story of the Nativity he went to the Bible to read the source account..& he wept “the most beautiful story in the history of the world”.. words of the lapsed or the fully practising?.. a book I read two years ago by Verena Wright entitled “Maid in God’s image” maid spelt maid not made.. subtitled “in search of the unruly woman”..she speaks of Mary being socially invisible most of the time, a pondering silence, active contemplation in conversation with God.. “she treasured all these things & pondered them in her heart”.. it had been 9 months of carrying her baby & carrying a cross.. socially distanced, ignored ridiculed & stoned by fellow villagers in Nazareth, shunned by local Rabbi & the squeaky clean meticulously observant Jews.. a disgrace to her parents & a humiliation for poor Joseph, initially smitten now seeking a way out.. an escape..& the answer in such crisis tragedy breakdown disaster?.. one word.. faith.. the conviction like the child in her womb, seeded, growing unseen if painfully felt.. a growing conviction that the words she had promised to Gabriel “let it be done to me according to your word” & the truly amazing song she sang so early in her pregnancy in such wonderful company with Elizabeth, as her womb child John the Baptist, & Mary’s own womb child Jesus of Nazareth leapt & listened..& she could sing “my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord & my spirit rejoices in God my saviour.. the Almighty has done great things to me, his lowly handmaid” little did she know what was to come.. 9 months of hard labour as the goody two shoes distanced themselves from her.. in self isolation with an underlying relation problem with those who should in religion have been caring for her.. where all she could do in the empty moments was to hold on to the essence of faith.. the times of the non-answer.. like us in covid, how long? how many more deaths? when will I get the vaccine? will I lose a loved one to it?.. “let it be done to me according to your word” & the angel left her, until her prayer, her words of faith literally come to life..& “she treasured all these things, & pondered them in her heart” ..she looked back at every moment of it.. March to Dec 2020.. the giftedness the cross the lowest moment the gradual realisation that I had been chosen to bring the infant Jesus to birth in the year of Covid 2020.. a year never to be forgotten for its tragedies, & overwhelmingly so for those of us with an active faith.. some of us if not all of us to be honest.. its blessings “God is with us” Emmanuel.. a New Year’s message full of faith hope & promise.. “the Almighty has done great things” for Mary, & through her example, her prayers for us, now in her footsteps, great things through you.. some of you, & through you, for some of us.. for those of us who have no sense of realisation why those of us in spiritual Tier 3 need to move into Tier 4, from today, if the spiritual vaccine called divine grace is to work for each & all of us.. if the pfizer vaccine was on offer in our Parish Hall this morning folk would be queuing round the block.. a much more effective spiritual vaccine 100% successful is being administered in here, here & now, to the few shepherds wise men & women who have made the journey..”& they went back home glorifying & praising God for all they had heard & seen..” 112 word gospel.. 912 word homily..& a smile behind your mask..