We have an urgent need for peace, and yet, peace cannot be imposed upon us, nor can we fit it with a leash or harness and domesticate it to walk at our heel. We can only know peace when we surrender the illusion of being in control of our lives, self-creating master of our own destiny. Peace is found in recognizing the sovereignty of Jesus, the Christ, the firstborn of all creation, who lies sleeping attended to by a court composed of smallholder goats and starlight.
This is unspeakably hard for the English, who are obsessed with the illusion of their own sovereignty. There is so much illusion to let go.
One evening a week through Advent, I open the church doors and invite people in, to sit in the dark, beneath a net of ‘star’ lights, Advent songs washing over us, a cup of coffee or hot chocolate in hand, and just to simply be. Breathing space, for those in danger of being overwhelmed, in these dark days. A simple gift of love. It is not about the numbers, but about the souls who come, seeking the face of the Christ-child. Last night their number included a man living with dementia, a woman who has just learned that the breast cancer has returned. And others, carrying burdens of self-doubt, or questions that are simply unanswerable. Sitting with God. Communing in wordless conversation. Surrendering the illusion that we are in control. And leaving with a weight lifted from their shoulders.
These are counted among the most wonderful hours of the week.