Suddenly I am caught up in a writing frenzy as I realise that 5 services are just around the corner. It is always a challenge adding a new slant on the Christmas story, and somehow messages from the past do not quite fit.
A return visit to Bethlehem this year has helped, this time in February - when reflection on Christmas is not quite in tune with the year. To think of Bethlehem out of context helps gain a better perspective on the ordinariness of the event, and it's extra ordinary impact. The need to get the baby out of the manager and I to our lives and world.
With Syria and Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq still very much in the news during 2013 and our own domestic scene of cost cutting, increasing reliance on food banks and a royal baby - the Holy land has been off the radar for a bit. However the plight of the Palestinian Christians goes on, that small remnant amongst Jews and Muslims, trying to live as peaceably as possible with their neighbours.
I will never forget hearing gun fire, as I sat in the courtyard of a church on the site of Jacob's well, in the West Bank, hearing the confession of one of our tour party. It brought home to me both the fragility and vulnerability of the world in which we live and the life we each occupy. The fact that Christ came into a similar upside down world, and taught us about turning it the right way up. That's what has been going on for the last 2000 years and still goes on.
As I rewrite my messages, there is still a need to realign the priorities and set a new course. From hatred to love, from anger to reconciliation, from repression to confession and from doubt to faith. It's a complex world and there is no slick message. The preacher in our own tentative steps towards enlightenment is as vulnerable as the tentative seeker coming to hear.
What if.......we admitted we do not have all the answers?