What happened next? Mary, the mother of Jesus

This meditation appeared in the Baptist Times recently. I follow it with some of my thoughts as I tried to compose it and some suggestions for reflection and prayer. We pick up the story of Mary, mother of Jesus sometime after his ascension as the disciples gather in the Upper Room. (Acts 1)


Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Mary quietly left the room and made her way to the wall of the city where she could see Olivet. She sat down carefully and lent against one of the great stones left by the builders. The pinnacle of the temple soared above her and she watched the birds launching themselves into the wind as it swirled up from the valley below. She could smell the desert – heavy with heat.

So she would see him no more. He spoke of a return but she did not think it would be tomorrow. Where had the years gone?

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What happened next? The shepherds

Untitled2I offer this brief series for anyone who would like to have some material for their prayer or reflection on the meaning of Jesus Christ over the Christmas season. This meditation on the story of the shepherds appeared in the Baptist Times recently. I have added some questions and back-up material.

The Shepherds

Let us imagine that two shepherds who had gone to Bethlehem to see the child in the manger and wake up the next morning. We listen to their conversation …

I told you to let me sleep. All that running across the hills isn’t good for me at my age.

Well I don’t know how you could sleep after what we had seen. Angels. Mysterious voices. A baby in a manger. It was wonderful.

I know, pass the water I’m as dry as dry. So what? What does it all mean? It’s a miracle to me that the sheep are still here. They could have been half way to Jerusalem with all that noise and fuss. I expect we’ll have some still-borns later this season.

We’ll deal with that when it happens. You’re right though, what now?

We could ask the Rabbi.

Him! He would take so long to work it out the Messiah would be with us. In any case that’s what it all meant. The time of waiting is over; the exile is finishing. The Land is going to be ours again. No more working for others. No more stewards lining their pockets whilst the bosses are all down at the coast with the Romans. People didn’t need convincing last night. Once we told them what the angel said the party started.

Yes, but that was last night. You know what people are like. Last night’s party is today’s hangover. Can we really believe it all? After all it’s only a baby.

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What happened next? Elizabeth

Untitled1I am writing this brief series for anyone who would like to have some material for their prayer or reflection on the meaning of Christ over the Christmas season. This meditation on Elizabeth appeared in the Baptist Times recently. I have added some questions and back-up material.

The case of Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist?

She had spread the washing on the rocks to dry. The wind was getting stronger. She had placed stones from the stream on the clothes to hold them down. The other women still kept her at a distance. It was time for a brief rest. Shading her eyes she looked up across the valley to see if he was in sight.

People used to tell her he was God’s blessing. She would smile but kept her thoughts to herself. Zechariah insisted they call him, John. She did not argue … much; but she would have chosen Aaron, an ancestor. John was always wandering to edge of the wilderness. He spent more time there than their house. It was as if it were his home. He had his ancestor’s blood in him.

She worried. She couldn’t relax until she heard him calling her name from the hillside.

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What happened next? Herod the Great


This meditation appeared in the Baptist Times recently. I am imagining what a Teacher of the Law in Jerusalem might have thought about Herod sometime after the massacre of the infants in Bethlehem. I follow it with suggestions for reflection and prayer.


Herod the Great

I turned my back on the Temple and made my way through the crowded streets. It would soon be the Sabbath and I wanted to be in my home long before it started. I had to struggle because there were still visitors gawping up at the Temple walls. I hated the look on their faces. Didn’t they know the cost in human life this building had exacted just because of one man’s desire?

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Conversation: Pontius Pilate

Eccehomo1John 18:28-39

I find it mildly interesting that

although people still question whether Jesus

existed or not –

my existence is never questioned!

This also puzzles me since he and I have been linked

like brothers in the womb

since just a few decades after our deaths.

As your creed declares:

He was crucified under Pontius Pilate,

He suffered death and was buried –

As for the rest of your beliefs?

They are beyond me and lot of other people I believe.

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A very influential man (3)

index“My object in writing this book is to persuade all readers that the experience they must reflect on is not mine, but their own, because the only place any of us can find God at first hand is within our own experience” Gerard Hughes

I’m continuing to read Cry of Wonder and this quotation sums up its core theme. It is to know and reflect on one’s own experience. He describes his own struggles to recognise this. Whilst he is clearly based within one of the Christian traditions, he does not regard it as a well-guarded sanctuary. Indeed he believes that when the Church seeks to exert her authority in relation to this is when God can be pushed out.

Hughes writes:

“God is to be found in the ordinary, in the earthiness and messiness, the chaos and strife of everyday life”.

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