Saturday, 20 December 2008

Blessings to the High Low Places

I know I know your thinking you never write you never call and here you are in the last few days posting like a woman unleashed. It is as much I suppose about a search for meaning, context and understanding.

As I write today I am again in work (I know it is a Saturday) I have icon class soon yet here I am just getting the last service sheets together for tomorrows recreated Christingle come Nativity service I have got together.
Okay todays context, outside of my window I am watching the rain bucket down on Christmas Shopers. On the headphones is a bazar mix of old Mary Mary renditions of 'Shackles" and all blessings be to Spanky who yesterday introduced me to Sufjan Stevens Holy Holy Holy. And yes I think you could do much worse than hook into YouTube and have a listen .

And Christchurch being Christchurch we have sadly another murder of a young woman . I used to resist saying another prostitute is murdered because the sensationalism of her occupation made the reality of her humanity invisable. So between the creation of Nativity services I have been searching the net to see if there is a photo of her incase she is one of the sex workers I say hello to in the morning on my way to work. I recall the memorial of Suzie Sutherland of the letter her parents sent that was read out to this church full of prostitues, dealers, pimps, street people, her lovers and her friends. How many of them will be gathering again for Ngatai's funeral?

Seems a sad yet appropriate context to introduce my last meditation for Advent. Today if the rain would not wash it away I would write in chalk on the pathments of Manchester Street. To you who work on these streets please please be take care of yourselves you are important. You are loved.

I am here again Lord.
No matter how much I tell myself this year it will be different I still find myself on this night frequenting these High low places.
Not that you ever try to stop me, “We all have our way of sitting Shiva with those who wait for the light” you say.
For me it is to be pulled to the edge places.
To bear witness to humanities yearning for the new dawn.
When I was younger I frequented the Great Cathedrals of the world, circled spires and lay across great arches. At other times I would find myself in the belfries of humble worship, in houses no bigger than the stable in which Christ came forth clothed in a woman’s blood.

Be it a mega church or humble house - as on this night as in the very first night, I come to watch over the prayers of those drawn to the light.
To see their prayers as smoke curl from their lips carried high into the arms of the creator.

On this night I come down low, hover over those in prayer and finally settle next to a pillar I watch as the everyday drama of prayer- humanities hymns to the silence unfold.

Few see me, the occassional babe in arms - fingers reaching out - faces alight, the old blind priest still going after all these years.
He pauses beside me “So unearthly thing” he says “Have you come today to take me to my creator?”.
I smile it is the same question he asks of me every year “Not tonight old man”, he is after all not mine to take.
“This night I come to hear the prayers of the faithful and the lost”, he humphs and shuffles along.

Tonight there are prayers both sublime and rediculous.
To the side sits a woman hands clasps tight she prays for patience, that her fear for the future not be spat out at her husband recently laid off. In the front sits the old man begging to be taken, so he may be reuntited with his beloved wife gone long before.
For the out of place woman with three toned hair the prayer is for a friend found facedown in the river, while the eight year old one seat back practices looking unimpressed as she prays that tomorrow she wont be made to sit next to her aunt that dribbles at dinner.
As the numbers gather there voices build

Lord make me pretty,
Stop me from drinking,
Give me pajamas with feet in them,
Help my son in prison,
Give us enough money for presents for the Children,
God I hope it was quick,
Take away my grandsons asthma,
Give us the contract at work,
Don’t let my husband find out what I have done,
Give me one more day I know I can win back the rent,
Take my daughters cancer away,
Let me know if you exsist,
Tell me is this all there is?
Help me tell my mother I am pregnant again,
Make the news happy today,
Find my boy a job,
Remind me why I stay,
Just take all this away,
What should I make for Christmas dinner,
Im so tired,
Just do something,
Thank you…

That stops me

Thank you! It is not just the words but the intent that pulls me close,
so heart felt, so full... ripe.
Ah but the intent... that spins me back to the night in the stable when we kept vigil. For that moment when our bodies shuddered at the cries of birthing , and we angels in the rafters clung together praying with the same need heard again here tonight.
Please let the child king would be born with breath.

The Birthing Prayer of Mary rang in our ears as she called out...
"May it be your will, Adonai my God and God of my ancestors, that you will ease these pains for me,
Make me strong,
increase the strength of my baby boy.
Ease my birth,
Birth me to motherhood Abba as I birth our babe,
Bring him out into the air without harm.
Make him be of good fortune bought into this life,
Fill him with peace,
Make him healthly and grow him to be an honourable man, as is the father you have provided on earth,
May my child find grace in Your eyes and in the eyes of all your creations.
May this child's life fulfill the verse:
"God sets the childless woman among her household as a happy mother of children. Hallelujah."
May my husband and I raise this child to serve You.
May we merit to teach this child your holy Torah,
to have peace and comfort, honour and rest.
Guard us, my baby and I, that we will not come to harm.
May You strengthen my courage, my strength, and my might, as it says:
"My Lord, my life-breath is revived.
You have restored me to health and revived me." Amen."

And then in the midst of this panting prayer there came the moment when
tears and prayers were released and fulfilled. When pain before us was transformed into sobs, then gulps, to gasps…and then all three at once all overarched with such sweet delight and thanks that we could not help but call out to the world in glory and light up the sky.

Not that they noticed. For them it was not the wonder that woke the neighbour and turned wise men towards Bethlehem, it was the miracle of a babe taken in his fathers arms and held up to Yahweh in blessing.
It was the tiny curled fist and the widest yawn that transfixed a mothers eyes, calling each movement to the attention of his earthly father.

And to the world a King was born that night, the fulfillment of joy and prophecy.

Thousands of years past and here in a down town church I am reminded of that moment in a prayer of thanks by a lone woman in prayer.
The baby in her belly is a gift unexpected, joy personified.
Perfect even in its imprerfection?
But they know this already, she still clasps the brochure in her hand, down syndrome…

Yet even in this reality her prayer turns not to ‘please God fix my baby’,
but to thanks for the gift of life inside her.
Many will walk away from a baby not perfect in their sight even though all are perfect in the sight of their creator.
Some will stare at one who does not look like the others.
Others will see sorrow and punishment for Gods perfect gift seen through the eyes as imperfection.
But in this place, on this day, in the midst the prayers of demanding
The pleases,
And the shoulds,
And the makes,
And the whys,
And the help,
And the do God,
And the don’t.
In humanities imperfection, the timeless miracle continues to unfold, seen once more in the face of a new babe in arms reminder of the coming of a new day.

As witnessed by an angel on this night and in a woman consumed by the thankfulness and blessed by the love of God

Blessings Megan

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