101 Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
Nouwen reminds us today that communities are not only full of the people we love and respect; that the people we least like often live there too. This fits with today’s Bible reading which recalls that, in amongst the disciples was Judas, who would betray him.
I gave thanks for community this this afternoon. Over the course of the day my parish church, St Albans Cathedral, welcomed 3,033 people through its doors for Carols on the Hour – six short carol services which are, funnily enough, held on the hour. I was ‘on duty’ for two of them – standing outside at the West End with a yellow sash on inviting people to come in. It was so pleasing to see the number of people say things like “oh, can we come in?”, “I’ve lived here ages and never been in – why not?” and on the way out “Thank you so much, happy Christmas!”
It felt so right that local people who’d never normally think to come in, or at least not to come in for a service, felt that they could – and that they got something out of it. And 3,033 is not a bad turnout given how wet and horrid it is today.
And so to a prayer for the day. Lord, let us always strive to welcome others as we prepare to welcome you. Let us strive to live out the good news so that, as in the words of the hymn, “they will know we are Christians by our love”. Let us welcome the fact that people feel able to come and hear the great glad tidings told. Oh come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel.
And so to today’s Great ‘O’ antiphon. These aren’t part of the Nouwen book, which may explain why I cannot always see a link between them and the Bible reading, Nouwen thought or prayer for the day. Mind you, I can’t always see the link between those latter three anyway. They are, however, an important part of my Advent preparation. Rather than clutter this post up, I’ve blogged a little more about these here.
O King of the nations, and their desire, the cornerstone making both one: Come and save the human race, which you fashioned from clay.