As many of you know, I sermon/homily binge on Sundays. I stream the worship services from Washington National Cathedral, Riverside Church in NYC, Duke Chapel, and finally Myers Park UMC in Charlotte. These are all very well designed times of worship, each giving a little different message, but all very uplifting, challenging, and filled with grace.
Today being Christmas Eve, with all the candlelight services offered, it gives me a little more opportunity to share in this experience. We participated in worship at Myers Park UMC at 11:00am, 6:00pm and 8:00pm; Washington National at 11:00am; Duke Chapel at 11:00am; and St. Peter’s in Rome at 11;30pm. Yes, I have had a day of preaching. But it has all been good.
Pope Francis spoke about the refugee nature of the Holy family being forced to go to a place where they were not wanted… not welcomed… a place where there was no space for them. He called on the world to make room for the refugees of the world. The narrator of the service mentioned that every 20 minutes of every day a family leaves their land for a new place seeking the hope of a new life or a family is forced to leave their land out of fear for their lives.
I was particularly struck with James Howell’s words this morning when he said: “Love risks being born.” It was a tremendous risk for God to risk being born as a helpless human infant and grow up in a world where he was unwanted but very needed. All day, as Shirley and I were getting prepared for tomorrow’s Christmas dinner and family, I kept having these flashes of James’ words: “Love risks being born.” Look what God risked to be born in us. And what are we risking to have His love being born in us and through us born in another?
We have had a very strange and disturbing year. Many of us have not known how to deal with or what to say about it. I know I have lost some friends over politics because of me expressing my feelings. Even my family thinks I am going to hell in a hand-basket. I must say that I have not allowed my better self to shine or be born each day in me… no that old lower self has had most of the control. I am sorry that I spoke as I did… I surely could have said what I felt needed to be said in a much better way… a more sensitive way.
I still am pondering this risky love being born in me. Not sure what it will look like or how it will play out in an old man’s living. But I hope it will look more loving, more caring, more understanding, more open. Don’t expect a door mat for you to wipe your muddy shoes… I will still come to the door. But expect me living on a higher plane where love is being risked.
O little town of Bethlehem How still we see thee lie Above thy deep and dreamless sleep The silent stars go by Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting Light The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee tonight O holy Child of Bethlehem Descend to us, we pray Cast out our sin and enter in Be born to us today We hear the Christmas angels The great glad tidings tell O come to us, abide with us Our Lord Emmanuel
Merry Christmas to all of you. I pray we all may find a way to risk really loving God and each other in the coming year. I am planning to use this as my waking prayer each day, cause I need to be reminded.
Grace and Peace