Thursday, 24 December 2015
It's Christmas Eve and the last hut in the 2015 Beach Hut Advent Calendar. While the temperatures have been kind to us this month, the wind has not been so pleasant as it has blown a gale most nights, sometimes with some added rain for good measure.
Tonight, hut 395 was visited by the angel Gabriel, delivering the message that Love Came Down at Christmas. Angels are most often described as messengers in the Bible and that's the main role they play in the Christmas story, but they are also sometimes representatives of God and occasionally called upon to be soldiers, which is why this angel had wings made of swords.
The angel tonight was performing all these roles as a stunning example of divine beauty, whilst also offering protection and support to the tiny baby Jesus laying at her feet. The love of God poured down from her onto the child of God at her feet, as the lines of her dress flowed and billowed from heaven to earth.
The most important thing about angels at Christmas is that they are the bearers of glad tidings and they make up the choir which sings 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, peace to all people on earth'.
This is a timeless message which is perhaps particularly relevant in 2015 as we look back on a year of conflict, destitution and refugee migration. We need to be reminded that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were themselves a refugee family who relied on the kindness of strangers to provide them with a place to lay their heads that first Christmas.
To say that love came down at Christmas is to say that God showed his love for us in sharing our human condition, in all it's joy and difficulty.
During the evening we all sang carols about the angels including The First Nowell, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and O Come All Ye Faithful with fantastic impromptu descant singing from some parts of the crowd.
We shared a Christmas reading and a Christmas blessing and discovered that three families have been along to every single hut this year so held a draw for the Christmas hamper which was won by Seth who has dragged various other members of his family along with him each night.
Everyone got to take a unique Angel artwork home with them along with a Christmas message about divine peace and joy.
It's been a fantastic year for the Beach Hut Advent Calendar. Thanks to all those who have created such amazing huts and to the many hundreds of people who've been along. We will write one more blog at some point with a round up of all the different media stories that have featured this event. If you're up early enough on the morning of Sunday 27th you can listen to Revd. Martin Poole on Radio 4 during the Sunday programme at 7.10am as the whole show is themed on the relationship between religion and art.
May God bless you with peace and joy this Christmas and throughout 2016.