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And when the angels leave…

December 28, 2014

Then the angel departed
Before Christmas I was asked to read a short reading at the local church as part of their annual Carol Service. Not something I have done often recently, unlike my earlier days when reading in church was commonplace. I was initially quite underwhelmed by the fantastical reading I was given; from Luke 1:26-38 ‘The Birth of Jesus Foretold’ “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent…‘Do not be afraid, …you have found favour with God. …the power of the Most High will overshadow you… For nothing will be impossible with God… ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed.”

The hills are alive
As a treat this Christmas we took the kids to see ‘The Sound of Music’ at Leicester Curve. A remarkable show! It’s a refreshing re-presentation of something we all think we know well. But I recommend that you review presumptions and supposed familiarity.
For me the unexpected resonance came in the pull between religious peace and worldly distress, and indeed religious distress and worldly peace.
Coincidentally the backdrop to several abbey related scenes was a powerful ~20 foot square representation of the fantastical Annunciation, by Botticelli. On the painting’s original frame is’s written in Latin “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.” Coincidentally from the reading above.

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Hope in a story
During holidays (once holy) we might encounter so many other tales and stories of truth winning over doubt, hope overcoming loss, the innocence of a child’s view washing worry and prejudice aside. I’ve just sat teary eyed through The Railway Children, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and we’ve still got Watership Down, E.T. and Babe still to watch.
In our annunciative occasions above, both Mary and Maria are given situations in which they find glorious beauty amongst tiresome disease.

But after the show
If you’re privileged as we are to have ‘time off’ over Christmas; If you’re privileged as we are to have the warmth of a Christmassy sunday sofa, snuggled children, cold meats, cheese and a sneaky dandelion n burdock; we come out of a dark month of advent, a time of pregnant anticipation and we’re dazzled by lights, reflections, impressions, illusions, projections, melody and chorus. The nourishment we find at this time of year is swamped in salty riches and cloying delicacies that might cause indegestion and even dis-ease. The obligatory celebrations that accompany the turn of the year are yet to come…

But as Maria, Mary and Caracticus Potts came to realise, when the angel departs, one has to see things as they really are, after all one “has to learn to put those dreams to some practical use, not just sit around and think about them all the time.”?

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