Faith at Work LXXVII

December 2010

If I’d planned this better, I would have finished the year on exploring the number nine: cloud nine or the pinnacle of the path into God – that would have led naturally into Christmas, wouldn’t it? So, I’m sorry about that; we’d better deal with eight first. Pieces of eight are Spanish coins, sometimes associated with treasure, precious items appearing unexpectedly. Our children are precious too, not that you discover them by accident. They make themselves known very early on and are the centre of attention for at least some of the time … and if you’re into planning at all, they are usually part of your grand plan, and rightly so. They are part of your contribution to the future.

In the case of Mary, the mother of our Lord, her planning consisted of being visited by the angel Gabriel and being asked if she would consent to being the mother of Jesus. She found it hard to say “yes” at first; it was all rather daunting as a young, unattached teenager and something, as one who lived in and around the Temple, that she hadn’t thought about much at all. Her initial reaction was a very human one, “how can I, if I know not a man?” – that’s “know” in the most intimate sense and her thoughts probably stayed on those earthly terms for a while. Of the four gospels, Luke’s is the best one to follow the story. Matthew’s story is a rather male affair, and it is Joseph who receives the visit from the angel to persuade him to stay and support Mary. Mark doesn’t mention the birth at all and John writes in a rather theological way about Jesus being the Word coming to dwell amongst us.

Conceiving of a commercially lucrative idea may have some similarities with the birth we’ve just started thinking about. Its gestation period can be a long time, frustratingly long sometimes, when all the various aspects have to be thought through and added to the design concept. The building and testing of a prototype has to be thorough if the idea is to be brought successfully into the world … and then the product has to be nurtured as various unforeseen drawbacks are encountered and worked around if the anticipated treasure is to be forthcoming. It’s certainly a delight when I see something in the workplaces that I visit developing from the idea to its definition and on to reality (and we should be aware that we are very good at that in this country).

The same is true as we grow spiritually – Pat Bennett (Iona Associate) ponders in this way on the nativity:

Incarnate Christ, be born in me this Christmas!
May my will be as Mary’s, saying “Yes” to you,
my mind be as Joseph’s, open to your revelation.
May my heart be as the manger,
poor yet containing heaven’s greatest treasure,
my life as the stable, hallowed by your presence.
Incarnate Christ, be born in me this Christmas!

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2010-11-02

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