Gathered around a manger, high on a Cumbrian hillside, in a barn lit only by flickering torches, the truth of the stark reality of the birth - and death - of Jesus came alive for me this week. Along with fellow travellers on the Windermere Centre Advent Retreat, seated on straw bales, surrounded by muffled sounds and pungent scents of cattle stirring, I was privileged to share in a most moving silent communion. The bread, reminding us of the Bread of Life, rested in the manger, swaddled in a simple white cloth ... and as the wine was poured, it dripped over a simple wooden cross and crown of thorns beside the feeding trough. The setting was atmospheric, the symbolism profound.
The truth of the Christmas story, and its full realisation in the Easter story, has never before impacted me so powerfully.
As we inevitably race headlong towards Christmas, in the busyness of the coming days, may we all have 'Advent Moments' ... spaces to pause and to pray ... and to ponder the wonder and truth and incredible beauty of the incarnation.
If you are seeking some simple advent reflections, I have recently added some to my poetry pages.
May God bless and sustain you all at this Christmas time.