My voice came back just enough to preach my sermon, and to sing my one and only hymn afterwards. I do admit now that five verses is a bit much to go to the rather slow tune of ‘Lo! he comes’, and understand why the publishers put it to a different tune, even though I’d written it specifically for that tune to make it possible to sing the lovely tune at other times than Advent. I did rather try to get the whole sweep of salvation history (or Heilsgeschichte) into one hymn.
I think the sermon was appreciated. Having woken up with a stiff neck I could only look at one side of the congregation, where a couple sat with the man smiling and the woman frowning throughout my sermon. I guess that means at least one of them liked it…
Sitting here writing this with two layers of woollies on and a scarf round my neck, while son lies in bed and sips fresh hot lemon and honey. Both of us seem to have succumbed to the cold weather, although in his case this is more to do with the fact that he refuses to wear a hat, scarf or gloves to go to school. My own folly was to go out into the cold with wet hair after swimming yesterday, even though I only crossed the road and then was indoors again straight away (in my favourite café, where I got chatting to a nice Welshman who apparently goes in there every day).
The worst of it is that I am preaching tomorrow afternoon and have almost no voice. The Grouch has offered to read out the sermon for me but it’s not quite the same. Though I say it as shouldn’t, I think I have put together a good sermon on Colossians 1 and John 1, based on the last chapter in Richard Bauckham’s book Bible and Ecology, which we are studying. And, if we can find the music, we will be singing the one and only hymn I have ever written, ‘Christ the Word’, which is published in a real hymn book and goes to the tune of ‘Lo! he comes’, which at least makes it Advent-y. The irony is, even if we do use it, I won’t be able to join in singing it!
… BINARY is an anagram of BRAINY. Which must mean something…
Not much to report except that I survived the sermon (not one of my best) and am now mostly employed in making sure we can get away on holiday. This mostly involves doing a lot of washing. Oh, and I went to Genius Brat’s parents’ evening earlier tonight. The consensus among the teachers seems to be that he is doing well but is capable of doing even better. But isn’t that what teachers always say: ‘Must try harder’?
I think I am less scared of teachers than I used to be. Especially the ones who appear to be about half my age.
In spite of having slept very badly last night, and having my cleaner here bazooming about, I managed to write a reasonable draft of my sermon on ‘psalms of new orientation’ (for classification, see St Walter Brueggemann, member of the Holy Trinity of Walters: Wink, Brueggeman and Wangerin).
It does not, as suggested by a certain S. Tomkins, have three points all starting with P. Or three pints, as in ‘the usual evangelical three-pint sermon [sic]’. It does have two psalms and a George Herbert poem, which is enough to be going on with.
I have also managed today to do food shopping at Tesco (I am Supermum!), preceded by lunch in the café and a chat with Fortune who works there. He is someone we met when Genius Brat was in a residential NHS unit, and he was working at a café near there, and turned out like us to have a son with Asperger’s. And now he has turned up working in Costa at my local Tesco, which is an unexpected bonus of shopping there. I like my little Aspie parent chats with Fortune.
At the Mennonites we’re having a series of sermons on values, based on a list made by Noel Moules of Workshop and Peace School, a mentor for many in the church. Today’s was supposed to be on patience, but the preacher chose to concentrate instead on a German word which many have encountered through the film Witness, when the Amish used the word: Gelassenheit. It’s almost untranslatable – in fact he said that it took 14 English words to tranlate it. He chose to render it as ‘let-go-ness’, though it could also be ‘let-be-ness’. Serenity, surrender, even being relaxed, would be other ways to suggest its meaning.
I used the word in a poem once, and it’s something I aspire to, not with a great deal of success, it has to be said. It was a concept popular with the early Anabaptists, not least because, being at constant risk of arrest, torture and death, they had to learn to live without anxiety. It could be a really useful value, or virtue, for the parent of a child with special needs to cultivate – not to mention for a long term depressive.
So how does one achieve ‘Gelassenheit’? I suspect it’s not something one achieves at all; rather, it’s a gift for which we have to ask God. But certain practices, such as living in the moment and not constantly thinking of the next thing, could help to foster it. I have been thinking lately that on the path to practising the presence of God, the first step is practising the presence of oneself: being truly present to the world in each moment, not always mentally or emotionally somewhere else. Perhaps that’s a step towards Gelassenheit too.