15 For I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish.
Firstly, may I wish you all the happiest and most blessed of Christmases.
We have a less than typical reading from Luke’s Gospel set for today. Not the birth of Christ. A passage instead from the end of Christ’s life. Nouwen’s point is that the names are powerful – and Luke’s point is that the name of Jesus can save us.
Perhaps there is a link here to one of the two most traditional of Christmas texts, the opening of John’s Gospel: In the beginning was the Word. Names are perhaps some of the most powerful words out there. They are what makes us distinctive and known to others. The Word – Jesus – is the most powerful word of all – and is the word that will save us.
Today’s Christmas Action is to remember to pray with the psalmist: “O Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”. I think I’ve managed this inadvertently (as I’ve only just got the time to read the book). Midnight Mass… the words of John’s Gospel rang out, around a real sense of powerful holiness… striking quiet the well lubricated congregation when they heard that Gospel together with some of the most familiar hymns and beautiful of church music. Fellowship in the wee small hours with a great bunch of people who weren’t ready to go to bed quite yet as they were buzzing from one of the most special moments of the year. Waking up with my family all around. Church again this morning with a very happy congregation again struck quiet, this time by +Alan’s sermon which started with the Wind in the Willows. More family arriving, the sense of wonder at Ben opening his presents, dinner, more presents (not an unreasonable number but someone fell asleep part way through before lunch!), and sitting down at a few points and just thinking how, well, blessed I am, and how much I have to give thanks for.