Library News – December

December. Christmas. The stable in Bethlehem. God here, human among us…
We walk through December step by step towards that stable, and the amazing act of God within it. We kneel, finally, in the straw, on our knees before the Child, and when we do, we find we are not alone. The stable is crowded. Not only the Holy Family, not only the shepherds, the donkey, the cows, the sheep, the place is filled with people.
A throng of strangers kneeling together, a most peculiar mixture of men, women, and children, dressed in the strangest, outrageous, mixture of clothing. We see a frock-coat here, jeans and tee shirt there, a Roman toga, someone in feathers and deerskin, in a sarong and flowers, a woman in a high mediaeval wimple, a battered looking man in chain-mail, ruffs and doublets, bare feet and rags, the uniforms of a hundred armies. The walls of the stable have faded out of focus.
Perhaps at our shoulder we see Simon or Sally, others from our church and our benefice, but who are the rest? It is the church, us Christians, gathered together in a worship that stretches back two thousand years. We are not alone as we follow Jesus. We have around us all the saints of God.
Our Library has books about saints. “Saints on Earth” by John Darch and Stuart Burns gives thumbnails of the people we remember day by day through the year. Janina Ramirez’ “The private Lives of the Saints” tells us the histories and backgrounds of the saints in early Britain. We have books about people, from thoughtful biographies (“Michael Ramsey” by Michael De-la-Noy) to racy stories of conversion and mission (“Taming the Tiger” by Tony Anthony). All of us are saints together. All of us kneeling in the straw of the stable in Bethlehem. Not strangers at all. The loving family of God.
Rosemary Smith

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