08 January 2023
Praying through poems and
with USPG: 8 January 2023
Christmas is not a season of 12 days, despite the popular Christmas song. Christmas is a 40-day season that lasts from Christmas Day (25 December) to Candlemas or the Feast of the Presentation (2 February).
Throughout the 40 days of this Christmas Season, I am reflecting in these ways:
1, Reflecting on a seasonal or appropriate poem;
2, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’
Ukrainians of all traditions celebrated Christmas Day yesterday (7 January 2023). Today in the Calendar of the Western Church is the First Sunday of Epiphany and celebrates the Baptism of Christ, although many parishes may also celebrate the Epiphany this morning.
Later this morning, I plan to be present at the Epiphany Eucharist in Saint Margaret’s Anglican Church in Budapest. We arrived in Budapest on Thursday night and Charlotte and I are spending some days visiting Saint Margaret’s Church and Father Frank Hegedus with the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) and the Diocese in Europe to see how the church and church agencies in Hungary are working with refugees from Ukraine.
My choice of a seasonal poem this morning is a translation of the Hungarian Christmas poem, ‘Fel Nagy Oromre,’ by the Hungarian writer and journalist Geza Gardonyi (1863-1922).
Géza Gárdonyi was born Géza Ziegler in in Agárdpuszta in western Hungary. He wrote a range of works, but his greatest success was a historical novelist, particularly with Eclipse of the Crescent Moon and Slave of the Huns.
‘Fel Nagy Oromre’ is a Christmas carol for great joy. The text and music were written by Géza Gárdonyi in Karád in 1882.
‘Fel Nagy Oromre,’ by Géza Gárdonyi (translated, Rongyi Rongybaba):
Hark up to heaven today is born,
He who was given wearing the thorn
Mary held him high up to the sky
Innocent baby, he is the light.
Plain shepherd come close, open your heart
Look here lays your God in the small barn,
He has no feathered crib for the night
Nothing can show us he is the high.
He lays with Mary among the straw,
Animals warm breath keeps him alive.
Plain shepherd come close, go on your knee,
Give your heart for Him and give your plea.
Quorums are singing in Bethlehem,
Aurora lights up in the heaven.
Angels are bringing us down the news, Jesus’ blood wash clean every sinner.
Plain shepherd come close cover your face
Give your heart to him and he shall redeem.
USPG Prayer Diary:
The theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week is an ‘Epiphany Reflection,’ introduced this morning by the Rev’d Michael Sei from the Episcopal Church of Liberia, who offers this Epiphany reflection:
‘In the early 1800s, missionaries from the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States risked the long voyage to Liberia to evangelise Cape Palmas, now Maryland County, and in 1836, the Episcopal Church of Liberia was established.
‘Today the Church is part of the Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa and seeks to make Christ manifest by focusing on intentional listening, witnessing and discipleship. Under the leadership of the Right Revd Dr James Bombo Sellee, its 13th diocesan bishop, the Church provides space for worship, reconciliation, health care delivery and a rich programme of bible symposiums and formation classes, enabling awareness of, and participation in, what it means to become God’s stewards.
‘Epiphany reminds us of our calling to make Christ manifest through God’s gift of caring for the poor, hungry and abandoned, by caring for drug users and showing love, forgiveness, healing and equality to all, irrespective of our ethnic, religious, sexual and traditional beliefs.
‘As we show Christ to be our salvation, the Church has a responsibility to speak out against corruption, bigotry, human trafficking, rape and abuse, and the marginalisation of women.
‘As representatives of Christ, with the Episcopal Church of Liberia, we are called to brightly bear witness to the centrality of Christ in our lives.’
The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:
Lead us, Lord of light,
and transform the poverty of our natures
into the riches of your grace
that your love be made known.