..mid Advent Sunday "Gaudete Sunday " [ Gaudete .."rejoice" ] .. a day to step out of our Advent of waiting & expectancy & enjoy the moment ..day for flowers in Church, for sweets & for pink vestments ..fortuitously Fr Abbot on his Visitation to us two years noticed in our vestment cupboard our Pink vestment which he immediately recognised as belonging to the Abbey..with due graciousness & obedience I agreed he should take it back with him that very day.. Prophet Isaiah in 1st rdg voices his pleasure at garment cloak vestment his God our God had clothed him & now us in.."garment of salvation" & a "cloak of integrity" ..a moment a season to acknowledge we are each of us clothed cloaked appropriately for the coming of an infant vested in swaddling clothes, an unwelcome migrant, homeless & born into a dysfunctional family.. ..my dysfunctional community your dysfunctional family & our dysfunctional parish.. Rejoice indeed !..he is to be one of us..
"the Spirit of the Lord has been given to me" ..to us..thee & me chosen anointed sent.. "to proclaim liberty to captives.." trapped in harmful relationships ; Lord have mercy "freedom to those in prison.." held locked in dependency/ addiction ; Christ have mercy "to proclaim a year of favour.." dysfunctional & thereby favoured.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..for all he was different in lifestyle appearance & conversation, an irritation& a growing threat to Judaism & its clerical caste of control & strict observance, he held ultimate warrant & lanyard..a lanyard at Abbey & College worn round your neck which identifies categorises & names you as staff or visitor, & colour coded red or black but not pink..on John the Baptists lanyard it would have read simply "sent by God"..authorised in person & ministry..& what of you & I here & now, are we staff disciples or visitors?..here by choice or sent by God?.."who are you?"..& if you want to question my pedigree & investigate my difference, proceed with caution, as you are stepping enquiring into sacred space & holy ground..this holy ground you are making more holy..John came notice, not as a mere messenger with royal mail logo on his red van, but as a witness.. someone who was there when it happened, the incident encounter & the moment of adventure..the Max Boyce moment..a great love for Welsh rugby he'd recount with eyes like saucers & a passionate possessive pride famous victory over All Blacks, 42-38 with last minute try /conversion.. a first win over worlds best for 42yrs & he'd finish saying "& I was there!" ..indeed he was, a witness where a mere spectator would have been pitied..not story, an experience retold relived passionately each time it was retold.."go on ask him, you ask him"..air of expectancy anticipation he'd tell it again how it was.."a witness to speak for the light" the voice go-between mediator..the prism in lighthouse at Flambrough Head, the means by which ordinary 100w light bulb can, by being magnified realigned through a glass prism, with its misshapen dysfunctional faces & angles, become a signal for shipping for a distance of 26 miles, warning of danger or welcoming migrant into calm safety of harbour..& what of your prism your lanyard in next 8 days? with your potential to become a witness & a mediator of the light of Christ, to those distant from us, never thinking for moment of being welcomed into our safe harbour tomorrow week; family neighbours work colleagues ever on a journey, conditioned to see only light of warning.. keep away keep out..lanyard wearers only..but John our John voices again & for first time words of Isaiah "make a straight way for the Lord"..stop going round in circles, avoiding one place in sacred space where the Light himself hopes you will approach, avoid the dithering & cut out the meandering..distance yourself from the professional distancers "we must take back an answer to those who sent us"..those even among us now who will never approach Light or Word for fear of being exposed "outed" "why are you baptising if you are not the Christ?" what are your credentials?..tell convince them by your words passion conviction, that there is the prospect of a real upset this Christmas, where for first time in 42yrs a genuine experience of the coming of Christ child will eclipse the traditional Christmastide the majority are prepared literally to buy into "who are you?".. ..indeed who are you?..a voice that cries in this wilderness, an individual who walks against tide, a witness to a manger experience "I will be there" believe me..& will you?.. & who will you convince to come with you?..take back home to your beloved distant seafarer, silent & silenced for many a year, not an answer but an invitation.."think before you do anything..hold on to what is good"..hold on in love to your seafarer 26miles distant, relying on your 100w of grace & goodness to guide them home..in St Benedict's PS on Monday hearing confessions, I went into staff room for coffee to find I was first there..two Yr 5 girls came in to ask me to fill an outdoor drinking beaker with tea for one of teachers on playground duty..milk but no sugar please..all part of my job description.. whilst waiting for it to mash & talking with girls I noticed tin of quality chocolate biscuits on table, readied for staff playtime..suggested to girls they might like one..eyes lit up..one girl looked then chose, & I was expecting other girl to follow..instead first girl broke her biscuit in half & gave half to her friend..a Eucharist..take bless break give..two priests two John the Baptists..for me a lanyard labelled visitor..theirs, as the witnesses the teachers, a lanyard reading the real staff.. [3rdSunAdventYrB;Jn1;6-8.19-28]