Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Our World's Joy.

"We must both read and meditate upon the Nativity. If the meditation does not reach the heart, we shall sense no sweetness, nor shall we know what solace for humankind lies in this contemplation. The heart will not laugh nor be merry. As spray does not touch the deep, so mere meditation will not quiet the heart. 'There is such richness and goodness in this Nativity that if we should see and deeply understand, we should be dissolved in perpetual joy. Wherefore Saint Bernard declared there are here three miracles: that God and man should be joined in this Child; that a mother should remain a virgin; that Mary should have such faith as to believe that this mystery would be accomplished in her. The last is not the least of the three. The Virgin birth is a mere trifle for God; that God should become man is a greater miracle; but most amazing of all is it that this maiden should credit the announcement that she, rather than some other virgin, had been chosen to be the mother of God. She did indeed inquire of the angel, "How can these things be?"-and he answered, "Mary, you have asked too high a question for me, but the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you and you will not know yourself how it happens." Had she not believed, she could not have conceived. She held fast to the word of the angel because she had become a new creature. Even so must we be transformed and renewed in heart from day to day. Otherwise Christ is born in vain. This is the word of the prophet: "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given" (Isa. 9:6). This is for us the hardest point, not so much to believe that He is the son of the Virgin and God himself, as to believe that this Son of God is ours: That is where we wilt, but he who does feel it has become another man. Truly it is marvelous in our eyes that God should place a little child in the lap of a virgin and that all our blessedness should lie in him. And this Child belongs to all mankind. God feeds the whole world through a Babe nursing at Mary's breast. This must be our daily exercise : to be transformed into Christ, being nourished by this food. Then will the heart be suffused with all joy and will be strong and confident against every assault".

Martin Luther on the Nativity.


Saturday, 11 December 2010

The honorable quest

"Then your voice will call me, and your hands can lead me home,
like a newborn, awed and naked - bare to the bone'.

Carrie Newcomer.

As I sat watching a favorite film tonight, the words of a school hymn echoed through my mind...
When a knight won his spurs, in the stories of old, he was gentle and brave,
he was gallant and bold,
with a shield on his arm and a sword in his hand, for God and for valor he rode through the land.

Frank Martin (The Transporter) may not strike most people at first sight as such a figure, but anyone in doubt should really give Transporter 3 another viewing. Beneath all the contemporary sizzle, adrenaline chases and martial arts, the sensual sparkle and the pointed statements, there lies a very old, in fact medieval tale of honor and valor, of risking all for the love of a maiden (brilliantly portrayed by Natalya Rudakova - a young lady who was literally taken from obscurity for the role). A telling moment comes when the truly discerning Inspector Tarconi tells Frank that he had always suspected that beneath his abrasive exterior, he was a true romantic.
Contrasted with the still moment pictured above (which grants the movie a moment of true romanticism), these brief but candid expressions unmask a little of the true intent here - a modern telling of an ancient tale - one which not only takes me back to childhood, or to some favorite Victorian paintings, but to the Gospel itself.

It would be easy here for me to make numerous parallels between moments in this movie and the realities of our lives and the defining "romance" of the Gospel message, but only one really matters - that within all our fear, pain, anguish and frustration, there is also hope. When we know genuine affection, we touch something that transcends and overwhelms all that is dark and disparaging in our lives - it assures us there is more, much more, beyond the hurt.
This is so because love finds its greatest expression not in our feelings or our present relationships, however deep and true these are, but in the very nature of a person - our maker and our redeemer, a true and deeply needed person of unshakable valor, honor and total integrity. That is why His promises, His deeds, His bond and affection are sure and true, and why the 'story' truly has weight and endures...
There is a better day ahead, when the darkness ends, and the richest love will be evidenced in all things.
That's certainly worth some moments of reflection...