Dear Minster and Friends,
I was struck by a sermon by Tim Keller today, especially on a day when the nation is going to the polls, on generous relationships, which drew my attention to the ancient Saxon words behind the English word for anger…wrath.
According to Keller, the underlying Old English root wrath also gives rise to writhe, wreath and wraith, and the thing that holds them all together is the idea of twisting. (Middle English writhen (v.), Old English wrīthan to twist, wind; cognate with Old Norse rītha to knit, twist; akin to wreath, wry)
You can twist up inside with anger, twist and writhe, a wraith is a type of ghoul which is twisted up with revenge and the moment of its unjust, unforgiving death.
Clearly, one of the benefits of deep forgiveness, is that we should release ourselves and others from that anger and writhing inside, and ‘untwist’ ourselves.
And I think, therefore that the Christmas wreath comes to us with many different meanings. It is knitted, twisted around, often with holly, like the crown of thorns. But unlike the crown of thorns which spoke of the Kingship of Christ in his humiliating death and suffering, this crown of evergreen speaks of promise, hope and life beyond the grave, and the joy of the coming of Christ into the world in the incarnation.
But family christmases, and the Christmas season in general is often so deeply laden with complex emotions, we often are aware of writhing anger and unforgiveness, of difficulties in the home when money is tight, and the expectations are high. Jesus said, that even if our dear brother wrongs us completely and constantly all through the day, we should unravel, let go and forgive.
May you experience a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and place this wreath of evergreen in your heart and home this Christmas season.
P.s Coming up this Sunday we have an incredible family service with a special puppet show, a wonderful song performed by the children in the church and free donkey rides for children after the service!