I’ve been sitting pondering the ‘Christmas Message from the Primus’ challenge – 150 words to say something fresh about Christmas. As happens, one begins to think laterally under the pressure of the challenge. Was there space for Giant Pandas in the manger scene at Bethlehem – after all there were Wise Men from the East so why not Pandas as well? They certainly seemed to be everywhere in Edinburgh this weekend on their arrival in Edinburgh Zoo. The Zoo hopes for a 70% increase in visitor numbers – maybe that’s the answer to our mission challenges as well. 70% increase in churchgoing – we wouldn’t know how to cope. Bring on the pandas, I say.
But of course the church isn’t like that – we don’t have a single ‘Bring on the Pandas’ answer. Indeed the church is usually at its worst when it thinks it has found one. We are about faithfulness, truth and consistency … learning to love that which is not obviously lovable … struggling to find meaning and hope in suffering .
So I’m carrying on ‘doing what I do’. Here is a Thought for the Day from last Friday on the spiritual possibilities in retirement. And I spent yesterday with our faithful congregations in Elie and Pittenweem – if you haven’t been to the East Neuk of Fife you should go. Those who write sermons will understand what happened. I wrote out every word of yesterday’s sermon. But it was only when I preached it for the second time that I began to find out what it was about. Such is the nature of Advent.