Wednesday, 22 December 2010

O Rex Gentium

The invocation of today's Advent antiphon translates as 'King of Nations' - not nations in the 'United Nations' sense of sovereign states, but the broader idea of people identified by culture, language and geography, entities that persisted for millennia before 'nation states' were invented post enlightenment.

All sorts of local leaders acquired the status of king down the ages, symbolising identity, social cohesion, representation of a particular people before God, and neighbouring people. Kings bestow honours and favours on those who look to them and serve others well. Kings lead the way for people in encountering foes or establishing trade partners. Kings remind people of their own story, identity and belonging.

To look to God the creator (with a reference to Genesis 2:7) as king of nations proposes an ultimate symbol of unity for all the human race, where each person can find unity in their common humanity despite perceived differences of race and culture and history.

O King of the nations, and their desire, the cornerstone making both one; 
Come and save the human race, which you fashioned from clay.


Lunchtime, John and I went up the ski hill for the afternoon session. We did a couple of practice runs to warm up on the beginners piste, involving long queues for the drag lift, waiting patiently in the freezing cold while children much too small to control snow boards and use a drag lift fell off, and tried again until the parents or instructors were embarrassed into giving way to other users. Before succumbing to hypothermia, we headed off for the chair lift and got properly started with some energetic skiing in good snow conditions.

At the end of six trips in the chair lift we were both aching a bit and tired, but at that stage we met up with Rachel, so I went up with her for a seventh run before the lift closed, and successfully completed my first full afternoon's ski alpin in five years without a single fall. I'm both amazed and grateful to be able to enjoy this marvellous experience once more. I think my legs will be stiff tomorrow.

There are more photos of our first week here

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