Tag Archives: Christmas

Lament and Hope

Last Christmas Eve, I shared a lament as bushfires raged around us, crying out for Emmanuel to come. And for the last couple of years, I’ve led my church’s Blue Christmas services, a space for people to name the griefs and sadnesses of the year and the challenges this season can bring.

As the year ticked over to 2020, a year long anticipated as a nice round number as well as for its association with perfect vision, perhaps we hoped the time for lament had passed. Perhaps we anticipated this year wouldn’t need space for being “blue”.

We all know how that went.

Now we come to the end of a disappointing and difficult year, a year where awareness of our frailties and weaknesses has been heightened, a year where lament has been a constant companion for many of us.

The words and spaces for sitting in the “blue” seem more important than ever.

And yet perhaps we are still hoping that ticking over to 2021 will make everything new again. Or perhaps we are pinning our hopes on a vaccine to bring about a return to “normal”. We find ourselves once again longing, yearning, expectant.

Lament and hope. Hope and lament.

This is our world. This is our humanity. In the midst of life we are in death. Joy and sorrow go hand in hand. We know this to be true. And yet we always find ourselves longing for more.

For me, this is why the biblical story is so powerful. It names this reality and it explains this longing. We were created for more. We live in the in-between. One day all will be restored. There is both space to lament and invitation to hope.

And at the centre of that story is the moment where lament and hope meet. When humanity’s groaning and longing is answered by a God who steps into the middle of the mess and brokenness. With the coming of a baby. Emmanuel. God in our midst.

This Christmas Eve my prayer is that we will find space to lament: to groan and cry out, to yearn and long, to name that where we live is not where we hope to be.

And in our lamenting, may the baby of Bethlehem, the promised Messiah, the Desire of God’s people and the Light of the world, meet us in the midst and bring true hope, hope for the restoration and redemption that is found only in him.




A Christmas Eve Lament

God, we are longing

O how we are longing …

Fires rage and smoke fills the air

we weep for all that has been lost

we fear for what is still to come

and we thirst for relief

Loneliness engulfs us

the hype fails to distract us

the crowds pass us by

and we yearn for more

Grief crashes anew

we feel cheated again by death

robbed of one more day

and we groan for resurrection

Sicknesses ravage us

our bodies aching

our minds afflicted

and we cry out for healing

Conflict surrounds us

wars in our world

tensions in our families

struggles in our souls

and we ache for peace

Sadnesses consume us

for what we have lost

for what we never had

that what we have is not yet what it could be

and we crave what we cannot quite name

We are longing …







We are waiting

waiting for you to come.

O come.

O come.



The hospitality of the nativity, or Yesterday was a lovely day to spend Christmas in Monaco

My Monday travel posts posts usually reflect back on places I have been over the years. But today I’m reflecting on the place I spent yesterday, Christmas Day 2016: the tiny principality of Monaco.

Monaco is known as a playground for the rich and famous and there were certainly glimpses of that. But with all the shops closed and the rich hotel buffet lunches behind closed doors, it was perhaps a different side of the city-state that I loved and learned from.

What did I love about Monaco?

Built on the steep slopes of the Maritime Alps overlooking the Mediterranean, the city’s architecture reflects its topography.

The ports are filled with luxury yachts, at this time of year many moored for the winter.

The winding streets are familiar from watching F1 Grands-Prix.

Looking down from above is the old palace,

as well as the beautiful old Cathedral.

At this time of year, along the quai there are Christmas markets with food, handmade gifts and entertainment.

All throughout the city there are beautiful Christmas decorations and lights.

What did I learn from Monaco?

The highlight of my day was the time I shared with some of the wonderful people I met after visiting St Paul’s Anglican Church. Not only did we share a significant time celebrating Christ’s birth with carols and death and resurrection through the Eucharist, but they invited me to share an amazing Christmas lunch afterwards! Their hospitality and welcome to this visiting stranger was a beautiful reflection of the message of this day.

St Paul’s crèche

I was also reminded of God’s hospitality in the incarnation through the variety of crèches (nativity scenes) throughout the city.

In parks, on street corners, in churches and on display outside the palace, the variety was stunning.

What really struck me was how so many different people portray the scene of Jesus’ birth in a way that reflects their own life experience.

From 19th century Provençal sets

to Madagascan displays

and everything in between, it was a delight to discover the huge range!

And they also reminded me of the key truth of the incarnation that we celebrate on this day: God coming to us as one of us.

Emmanuel, God with us. It makes sense that we depict his coming in ways that look familiar to us, because God does come to us in the familiar, ordinariness of everyday life. He enters our world, speaks our language, lives our humanity.

This is the ultimate act of hospitality. The God who incarnates himself as one of us so that we might know his loving embrace.

As I was reminded of it in the crèche scenes and experienced it through God’s people at St Paul’s, may you know and experience the hospitality of the incarnation this Christmas season.