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December 20

Isaiah 65, 20-22

Something to read

No more shall there be in it 
an infant that lives but a few days, 
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, 
and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them; 
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit; 
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, 
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
New Revised Standard Version

To read the King James version click here

Something to think about

These are hard readings so close to Christmas. We would rather read about stables and sheep and angels. Even elves and shoemakers, or reindeer - that would be OK. But every good story has baddies, and every story of rescue has dangers and troubles. Even Rudolph had his problems!

The Christmas story is no exception. It has baddies and troubles and danger, or else what is God rescuing us from? 

If we can’t think about these things now, then how much does your incarnation mean?

We know that in your world there are those who are homeless, those whose children die too young, but we’d rather not think about it. It’s sometimes even hard to pray about these things.

When we pray we admit that we know such problems exist, and then we feel our own inadequacy for not doing more to help. We are not storybook heroes.

But neither are we personally responsible for all that has gone wrong with the world. Isaiah saw troubled lives long before we existed; there will be problems long after we have gone. We are only responsible to do what we can do. 

As the old prayer goes, to change what we can and accept (and pray about) what we can’t, and be wise enough to know the difference. And leave the rest in the hands of the ultimate hero, Jesus.

Something to do

Choose prayerfully one thing, one way to make a difference. Find out what you can do to make a difference there. Make that difference. By next Christmas, God’s Kingdom will be a little closer in those places you have been.

Something to pray

Incarnate God you brought healing to those whose lives you touched. You fed those who were your responsibility to feed, and you offered love to those who came to you unloved. In your life on earth you could only be in one place at a time, so you were fully in that place and made a difference. Help me to be fully where I am and to make a difference there. Amen.

Nicky Gilbert is a former student of Westminster College, Cambridge.

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