Tag Archives: worship

A shepherd’s tale

Easy-to-organise last-minute creativity for a Christmas service if you’re pressed!  Goes well with Luke 2:8-20 (or radical choice – instead of!).

 “We’re the unsung heroes, you know…No one gives us the blindest bit of notice.  You’d think we were dirt, the way they treat us when we go into town…

 The wages are rubbish and when you think what we have to do…  Night shift in the freezing cold, wild animals on the prowl, and not a sniff of danger money…  Bored out of our minds half the time and scared witless the rest…  And in the day we’re at it non-stop – getting the maggots out of them, shearing them for market, hunting down the strays…  Oh, did I tell you?  We’re shepherds…  We provide food for that stuck-up lot in town, wool for them as can afford it, and lambs for sacrifices in the temple…  And all the thanks we get for it is the evil looks in the street… ‘Better stand down-wind of him…Cor, what a whiff!  Did someone let one off?’ 

So there we were this one time…  Sat round the fire with the usual bottle of something to keep the cold and the fear out, and then – there’s this other person there with us, talking to us somehow…and you could just hear a voice, inside you and outside you at the same time, if you know what I mean…  Of course you don’t…I know you don’t…you couldn’t unless it happened to you…And I tried to look at him but it was like he was made of light…really brilliant light…

He said about the baby…a special baby born for us…  ‘For shepherds?!’ I said, trying to make a bit of a joke of it, stop myself feeling so weak and wobbly.  ‘Is there going to be a posher baby born for society people?’  I still wish I hadn’t opened my mouth.  But he – she – it didn’t break me into a million pieces.  It said, ‘This baby’s for everyone, and will bring peace to everyone who worships him.’

And then there was singing.  No, not us!  But them – a whole load of them by now, a blaze of light and music like you can’t describe.  But it fills you with a joy and excitement so big you think you’re going to explode.

So we went to see the baby… he was easy to find, the only one in an animal shed – his mother had used her wits and made a trough into a kind of cot…God must have a sense of humour, I thought, to put his kid – if it really was his – in a baby bed like that.  And among the straw and cow muck – well, we fitted right in.  By the time we went back to the sheep, everything had changed.  God thought of telling me about his Son’s arrival.  He wasn’t the God I thought he was – he was much better.  Much more human.  Much more down-to-earth!  I could worship a God like that…”

Deluxe service

I’m not long back from the Bath and Wells Diocesan Gathering.

Three days of encounter, laughter, applied spiritual wisdom from varied speakers and sources, creativity in word, art, music, dance and (dare I say) theatre…  Worship, prayer, story-telling, carousing, and reflection.  It was great.

By the time of the farewell service of Holy Communion, the unseen bonds woven by a journey made in a spirit of openness and generosity were in place.  Consequently the symbolism of the whole bread divided between the many and the one cup shared had a power that was unusual in my experience.

As servants shortly returning to our posts, we were afforded – like long-neglected machinery – a deluxe level of service: nourished with bread and wine, sprinkled with cleansing water (lashed about by a determined bishop), oiled for our continuing ministry by our peers on forehead and hands (optional), warmed with the flame of a candle lit from a neighbour’s.  The sharing of the peace was characterised by a quiet tenderness; at other times a joyous spontaneity broke out in dancing and clapping to the spell of the songs.

Anglican worship at its very best.  Reconditioned, reunited, recalibrated, we set off for home.