Christmas isn’t yet here, but most of my work has been done. Last weekend was probably the heaviest: Riddells Creek Carols by Candlelight on Friday night; Lancefield Farmers’ Market on Saturday; three services (two in the morning; Blue Christmas in the evening) on Sunday. Then on Monday I suddenly realised that I was tired and had an afternoon nap.
(The Carols by Candlelight on Friday night were so cold! I had intended temporarily wearing my black Santa hat with “Bah humbug” on it as a joke and taking it off once the Carols started. But it was so bloody cold that I ended up wearing it all night to cover my ears and keep my head warm. Then the next day I got sun burnt at the Farmers’ Marker because my little brain couldn’t comprehend going from being frozen to being burnt overnight.)
Now I’ve got a pre-Christmas adrenalin surge. I woke up this morning before my alarm went off at 6 am and did an hour’s gardening before I started work. I’ve got both my liturgies for Christmas Day organised – all I need to do is copy the Order of Service for Mount Macedon. So all I have left to do is write the Christmas Day sermon. The trouble is that I just want to repeat what I said last year on Christmas Day: we celebrate the birth of Jesus because of what happened next; the story doesn’t end here. Can I assume that people didn’t really listen last year and I can repeat myself?
Four services to go – two on Christmas Eve; two on Christmas morning. Then an afternoon watching Doctor Who on the couch!
Have just finished Jim Wallis’ latest book, and while I found lots of it interesting and encouraging, and highlighted various bits for use in sermons and articles, this part was what really struck me:
Humility is a difficult virtue to those who are called to a prophetic vocation – people like us. Humility is difficult for people who think they are, or want to be, “radical Christians”. Humility is difficult when you’re always calling other people – the church, the nation, and the world – to stop doing the things you think are wrong and start doing the things you think are right. Humility is difficult for the bearers of radical messages. When we’re always calling other people to repent and change, it’s not always easy to hear that message for ourselves.
There is a real tension between humility and the prophetic vocation. Most prophetic Christians I have known – present company included – are not very good at humility. We are always making judgments of others – church leaders, political leaders, majority cultures – but are not often good at applying the judgment to ourselves. Even when the prophetic judgments we are making are necessary, they seldom lead us to humility. After all, we are the ones who know how other people are supposed to change. We are the ones with the answers. We are the ones doing it right.
… Grace saves the prophetic vocation. The knowledge and experience of grace can ease the seriousness with which we tend to take ourselves. Grace can restore our humility, our sense of humour, our ability to laugh at ourselves. All are regularly needed by prophets. Only sinners make good prophets.
Jim Wallis, Seven Ways to Change the World, 2008, pp. 239-240.