Notes from Jan

Holy Oddities

November 30, 2020

They celebrate Letter Writing Day and National Tree Week in England. Dean Robert’s taught me much about life here and there from his pulpit amidst roses and roosters in the gardens, patches and pens around the Canterbury Cathedral.

Yesterday, the first Sunday of Advent, the Dean tenderly touched a tree. Then, he thanked God for the function and beauty of all trees. Odd. Wonderful.

In clerical garb, Dean Robert pats chickens and swine, calls some by name, like they matter, all while sharing devotional thoughts, laced with historic faces and facts for the rest of us. I’ll miss his hay bale pulpit, surrounded by grunting, snuffling pigs and squawking, strutting fowl. Holy incongruities gone, when something akin to normal returns and the church heads inside for safekeeping, perhaps. Churches infused with incense, sometimes too pretty and perfect for those who feel more at home in pig pens than pews.

And that is why the setting of Christmas matters. A stable is neither pretty nor perfect. It was no heavenly “whoops!”, like God should’ve thought to have booked the Bethlehem Inn months before to avoid “no room” and the baby’s birth in a barn.

Which is one more reason to love God. He knows us and delivered his Son smack dab in the middle of our messy lives. And heavenly hosts hung out a star studded welcome to come and see God’s gamble in a grain trough, Jesus.

So to all who cower in corners, frightened of more than the corona virus, there’s good news. Bethlehem beckons. A long time ago, someone felled a tree and used some to fashion a feeding trough for animals. And God blessed the ordinary , and a manger became a bed fit for a King. Jesus.

Maybe the next time we’re inside church, we’ll come closer, if we see the altar and holy communion as God’s sacred feeding trough. A manger laden with Christ’s manna of love, forgiveness, mercy and another shot at real life.

During this Advent season and for as long as we have breath, Bethlehem beckons.

Jesus waits while we wonder and wander, exhaling fear, inhaling hope.

God’s beloved and holy oddities.

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7 Comments

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe November 30, 2020 at 7:03 pm

    Jan, can you share a link to these talks of Dean Robert’s? You have mentioned them in the past and I’d love to see them. I continue to appreciate your writing so much.

    Exhaling fear, inhaling hope here in North Carolina.

  • Reply Marty Lefever November 30, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    Profound and amazing!! Wondering and wandering, exhaling fear and inhaling hope here in MI!! Thank you, dear friend!

  • Reply Dale November 30, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    Thanks Jan,

    I just wish I did not need so many reminders of who Christ is and why I am. And, while I would prefer to be unique rather than odd, I think the latter fits well.

    Blessings dear friend, Dale

  • Reply Shirley Westrate November 30, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    Oh, dear Jan, you have brought us to the manger already. May we all linger close to the trough in these Advent days.

  • Reply Marilyn bullock November 30, 2020 at 8:59 pm

    Jan I have enjoyed Canterbury cathedral. Morning prayer with all the history he shares and the gardens and animals. He has brought much to my understanding of God’s love and grace

  • Reply Shannon December 1, 2020 at 12:03 am

    Thank you, Jan!

  • Reply Wendy December 8, 2020 at 11:19 am

    Beautiful! <3

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