Monday, November 22, 2010

Caught In A Moment (Advent reflections): Part 1 - Introduction

Let’s face it for most people today the nativity scene has become just a hallmark moment, the nice drawing  on the front of a Christmas card from a distant relative we only hear from at this time of year. At best the nativity scene (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) is synonymous with a picture in a children’s storybook.

How does this scene and the message of the one who came at Christmas really impact on the world we live in? In response many images from the media come to my mind:
The picture of a street in Omagh where a car bomb goes off on August 15th 1997 and 29 men, women and children are killed in sectarian violence. Supposedly Ireland is a Christian country. With that image comes a U2 song. Bono, who’d been so involved in the Irish peace process, was devastated by this vicious attack. He wrote a song questioning the words he hears each Christmas. The song, called Peace On Earth, is not about loosing faith in God, rather it's a lament where by Bono is waiting for the reality of those words in a world of pain, sorrow, violence and insanity.  It  both disturbs and challenges me to examine how the Christmas message can connect.

‘ Jesus this song you wrote

The words are sticking in my throat

Peace on earth

Hear it every Christmas time

But hope and history won’t rhyme

So what’s it worth this peace on earth’

Other images, other times and places ‘caught in a moment’ (to quote another U2 song) come to mind raising questions and going some way to answer the question of how the Christmas message is relevant in the cold light of today’s reality. Over the next few weeks of Advent I want to explore this.

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