‘We all relate to rain in a unique way—depending on the hour of the day, the season and our geographical region. The rain may burst on us unexpectedly, or she may arrive while we are gathered to pray for her coming. Whenever she arrives, we’re grateful for her gift. Occasionally she may destroy everything in her path, uncovering injustices and warning us about climate change. More often than not, though, she brings with her moments of peace. Deep within our souls, let us wait for the rain excitedly, knowing that her coming is a gift of divine love.’ (Rev. Ema Rosero-Nordalm)
Camden Market Umbrellas ~ for rain and sun, and just for fun!
‘What makes delight different from joy or gratitude? For, me it’s the surprise of it. Delight sneaks up on me unawares, bringing a smile to my face before I even have a chance to realize why. Delight might arrive the first time I notice something beautiful—spring’s first crocus, my baby’s first smile—but it might also show up in a familiar sight or sound that I find myself delighting in all over again.
Isaiah tells us that God’s promised child will delight in the fear of the Lord. What would it feel like to have God’s justice, God’s wisdom, fill me with delight?’ (Margaret Ellsworth)
Ebury Edge, Ebury Bridge Rd, London SW1. Timeline: 2020 to 2024
‘Ebury Edge is a Westminster City Council funded creative hub providing workspace, retail units, a cafe, a community hall and a community garden at the back of the development. It sits on the the edge of the Ebury Bridge Estate. Westminster City Council’s regeneration of the estate just south of London Victoria will see the renewal of outdated existing housing blocks and the creation of around 750 new homes.’
I just love this photo of Ebury Edge. The sight was a delightful surprise ~ so much colour, vibrancy, quirkiness and creativity right in the middle of London!
‘Jerusalem might have been built as a city that is at unity with itself, but you have to look pretty hard to see unity there these days. It’s almost always that way. We see unity as an aspiration rather than a reality. In our hope for unity, God gives us a gift. As we prepare for Christ’s return, we can look for a common hope and mission even amidst all our variety and diversity. Unity is not uniformity. Unity is, above all else, a shared hope in “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:5-6).’ (The Rev. Canon Scott Gunn)
St. Paul’s Cathedral, London is the cathedral for the Diocese of London, which has 500+ worshipping communities, 1,000 clergy & ministers, 200 men & women in training for ministry, 150 church schools with 52,000+ pupils, and a whole range of church traditions. “We believe that the diversity of church tradition of the Diocese is part of our strength, and in it we find unity.”
Unity is found in our shared hope and faith, which we continue to work towards and pray for this Advent.
‘Ready? I holler up the stairs, hoping the kids will hear the urgency. But they’re kids so they drag their feet, one last TikTok to watch, a few more seconds under the warmth of a blanket. But then I think that they are not so unlike me—especially when it comes to Jesus’s call for us to be ready. In Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples “You must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” I’d prefer to know the exact time and date and until then, stay in my cozy corner. But in this season of preparing for Jesus’s birth, I need to get ready—to open my heart, share my gifts, and offer praise—all in God’s good time.’ (Richelle Thompson)
BBC News last night under the headline, “China condemns British lawmakers’ Taiwan visit“, start their report with “China has accused British lawmakers of “gross interference” in its internal affairs as a group of MPs visit Taiwan. Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee arrived on Tuesday and have met high-level officials, including Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu….. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted that Mr Wu held a banquet for the UK delegation and spoke about “increasing authoritarian threats” as well as “worrying issues at home and abroad”.”
As part of ‘getting ready’ this Advent, may we pray for all such ‘worrying issues at home and abroad’, including prayers for wisdom for our world leaders and for peace, in Taiwan, Ukraine ~ and in our own hearts.
Meanwhile, I’m getting ready to return to Taiwan in the new year ~ yes, of course I miss you Taiwan! 我想念台灣!
‘Make a plan, make a change, make a difference, make a promise. Make memories, make the most of it, make something of yourself.
To make something is to act upon it, to bring it into being. It is intentional, purposeful.
What are we being asked to make this Advent?
Or is that the wrong question? Would it be better to consider what God is trying to make of us? What is the Maker making here, now?
We can work so hard to develop ourselves, to get closer to the life we have imagined. Is it possible that in this busy-ness, we lose out on the opportunity to allow God to act upon us, to change us, to fulfill a promise to us, to make something us?
If we set aside our own preconceptions this Advent, can we see what is being made in us and all around us?’ (Rebecca Marek)
‘Creativity is in all of us’ at the London Graphic Centre (Art Supply Store), Covent Garden
‘Humans have always been drawn to mountaintop experiences and for good reason—it often takes an effort to get there but the reward more than justifies it. From Abraham and Moses to the Transfiguration and Crucifixion, major events in the Bible are often centered atop mountains. And yet, a mountaintop experience is not how God chose to reveal the Messiah to the world. Instead, Jesus was born in a cave surrounded by domesticated animals, the miracle of our Savior’s birth revealed first to lowly shepherds so that all, especially the lost and the least, might be drawn to the light of Christ.’ (Victoria Logue)
Mountains in London? Not that I know of, but there are a few hills ~ including Tower Hill, once famous for its public executions of high-profile traitors and criminals. The land was historically part of the Tower Liberty, an area protected from development so as to keep a clear view of the Tower of London for defence purposes.
‘When I think about the ministry of Jesus, often the first thing that comes to mind is that he was a preacher and teacher. When I was an elementary school teacher, I always looked forward to my students having a “lightbulb moment”—the moment when a concept they had struggled with suddenly became clear. Jesus was an extremely patient teacher. I imagine he would delight in the “lightbulb moments” he helped facilitate through his teaching. When have you experienced a “lightbulb moment?”
‘Exquisite Pain‘ by Damien Hirst at St. Bartholomew-the-Great’s Church (Great St. Barts), London’s oldest surviving church – adjoins St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (Barts) of the same foundation, one of London’s most famous teaching hospitals.
‘St Bartholomew was one of Jesus’ Apostles, who went to Armenia to preach the Gospel, where he was tortured to death by being skinned alive.
Damien Hirst uses the traditional imagery of the saint (which you can see in the Sistine Chapel and Milan Cathedral, for example) – holding his skin over his arm, clutching the knife that tortured him – but gave it a twist special to St Bartholomew’s Church and Hospital: the body is based on an anatomical model and the knife is a scalpel.
“I like the confusion you get between science and religion… that’s where belief lies and art as well.”‘ Damien Hurst
‘In pandemic times, one of the best ways to stay healthy is in isolation. But in every other circumstance, separating ourselves is a path toward unhealth—physically, mentally, and certainly spiritually. We need to be together. Binding ourselves to each other pushes away fear and despair, and together we discover more courage and hopefulness. In coming together, we unlock creativity and joy. In this season of preparation, we remember that God desires to be together with us, so much so that Christ came to walk alongside us and to live among us.’ (Katherine Bush)
‘WE’ by Jaume Plensa 2021, The Shard, London Bridge
“I call it ‘WE’ because I’ve been using alphabets from different cultures, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Cyrillic, Hindi and Latin. A group of letters alone means nothing, A-B-C-D-E, they are like cells that in collaboration with others become a text. It’s a beautiful metaphor about community, about society… ‘WE’ comprises two parts – one installed in The Shard’s piazza, one suspended above the escalator outside the building – facing each other as if in dialogue. The piece is designed to give members of the public a chance to frame their individual perspectives, as they walk through Shard Quarter, taking in one figure, followed by the other. By establishing a link between the two, they will be inspired to consider the notion of self, alongside the people around them.”
‘The very first journey to the manger begins, not with passive waiting, but with a walk. Imagine the pure physicality of that walk: a heavily pregnant Mary and a weary Joseph place one sore, dusty foot in front of the other, mile after mile. Mary plants each foot carefully, lest she slip and harm her child. Like Mary and Joseph, we embark upon a journey today. Let us walk with God through Advent, mindfully and intentionally, with our hearts and minds open to all the possibilities this expectant season brings.’ (Anita Philbrick)
Today is Advent Sunday, and the start of Advent Word, a project of The Episcopal Church, with an ‘AdventWord’ shared each day and a short meditation on that word. From my visit to London last week, I hope to share a photo with you appropriate for each day’s AdventWord.
This Advent season is a good moment to pause and listen to Mary’s proclamation. Do we sometimes think we are insignificant? Listen to Mary’s affirmation that God is deeply interested in us. Do we wonder what we should be doing with our lives? Listen to Mary’s words as she explains what God wants to do with this world of ours.
Then we need to be ready to proclaim this good news to others. Although Christmas can be a moment of joy, many people are missing someone they love, struggling to make ends meet, and afraid about the future. The invitation from Mary is to see oneself as a person connected with God—a God that seeks to use us to further a future that is different and hopeful.
Advent Church, Christmas Eve 2020.
Advent is over for another year, and so are these #AdventWord meditations, along with my photos of events in Taiwan in 2020. It has not been an easy year for the world. Many are suffering. Taiwan continues to do well in handling the pandemic, although the long run of 253 consecutive days of no local transmission ended a few days ago with one case, traced to a infected pilot who has caused much worry for the country ~ and has since been fired for his dishonesty in neither revealing his contacts nor his travel details. As it is, we are grateful that our Christmas continues as ‘normal’, which for Taiwan means work and school; we have no Christmas holiday or time off. Y’know, it’s actually good, there are so many opportunities for outreach, and many of our students and former students came to our Christmas Eve Service this evening ~ and stayed for the delicious refreshments afterwards. Tomorrow’s main event for Christmas Day will be at 7:30 am when we all gather to go to our neighbouring junior-high school to wish all the children and staff a Merry Christmas. 🎅⛄ 🎄
Thank you all for your Christmas cards and messages. I didn’t really send any Christmas cards this year ~ please accept this as my Christmas greetings for 2020. I am very grateful to you all for your support and prayers this past year, Wishing you all joy and peace this Christmas time!🎄🎄