|Pen and Ink Reflections||
The first Christmas sermon I preached here in Toowoomba empolyed words of a great poet songwriter singer: Leonard Cohen who, sadly for us, died recently. Let me then preach my final Christmas sermon here with reference to the words of another great poetic songwriter singer: Bob Dylan, who was recently awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature. For like Leonard Cohen, Dylan’s lyrics have typically been grounded in a relationship to existence which we can call religious, in the very best sense of that word: namely a relationship which is not always conventional, and certainly not ‘churchy’, but which is always seeking to connect with the deepest ground of our being. It is from this place that we find our truest meaning, both for our individual lives and for our families, communities and wider world. For, in Dylan’s words which take us to the heart of the feast of Christ’s nativity, whoever ‘is not busy being born is busy dying.’ In the nativity we see the ultimate meaning, source and purpose of life. We are invited to share that light and love, by allowing it to be born more fully in us and the world around us…
Joseph has a problem! Mary's pregnant and the baby is not his. It is not exactly a unique problem. This is the kind of scrape that appears somewhere in most people's family history, no matter how much pontificating and covering up goes on. I am sure we all have tales we could tell of the judgments that family members make of one another, and of the harshness of some 'good Christians'...
‘The difference’, said Anna, ‘between a person and an angel is easy. Most of an angel is in the inside and most of a person is on the outside.’
That is just one of the wonderful words of wisdom in the marvellous little book ‘Mister God, This is Anna’. Do you know it? It is a wonderful read. Published in 1970, we now know it to have been written by Syd Hopkins, a man who grew up in the poverty of the pre-second world war East End of London and who suffered physically and mentally for many years. Out of his experiences and reflections, he created a moving story which touches heart, mind and spirit. For, in brief, Mister God, This is Anna tells of the encounter of Fynn, the 19 year old author, with the five-year old Anna, a homeless waif. The book describes the bewitching thoughts, discoveries, analysis, and poetry of little Anna’s beautiful mind. Wise beyond her years, Anna has a special connection and relationship with her dear “Mister God” and God’s enchanting world, and she happily leads Fynn through a whirlwind of wonder and insight.
‘The difference’, said Anna, ‘between a person and an angel is easy. Most of an angel is in the inside and most of a person is on the outside.’ What is the child Anna saying to us, do you think?
Questioned by Fynn, she explains. There is a wholeness to angels: they are full of all the stuff angels are supposed to be full of: light and love and peace. Human beings however tend to be full of all kinds of holes. Some of these holes have names. The holes might be something like: a new dress, game, or car; a new house, job, or holiday; another drink, or drug; whatever it is that we happen to long for. Such things are outside ourselves. Whilst we think about, and give ourselves to them, most of our being is therefore outside ourselves. We are not full like angels. We are walking about with huge parts of ourselves missing. For, of course, even if we were to have the things which leave holes in us, we would still have other holes. For things, in themselves, cannot fill us up, like angels, with the life and light and joy which truly makes us whole...