Readings are here.
Notes toward a sermon
Have you seen the photographs of the beauty of space taken by the Hubble telescope? Wondrous and fabulous images brought to us from places beyond our sight. As I read the Gospel of John for Christmas Day -- I was thinking this is what John is trying to describe. We are so used to hearing this passage in English we lose the full dimension of of the words. Richard Swanson in his blog Provoking the Word fills out the meanings for us.
All the beauty and wonder of creation comes to us in a fragile limited life - 33 years we think Jesus lived among us. Think of an hour glass-- all that has been comes down to one specific life - and then goes out to change the whole world. The moment of the Eucharist mirrors this action. All is present in the bread and the wine and then we take it and carry it out to the world again.
Messiah does not come with armies of angels - much as I would like that some days. "Come Michael and all angels with your fiery swords and set thing right. Take away the wounding and the killing and all those terrible things in the world." But it does not work like that - Messiah comes in a vulnerable infant, who needs are tender care.
In Jesus day, the Roman Empire was ascendant -- doing whatever was needed to keep their power in place.
In 1513 Fra Giovanni wrote:
I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see.And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!
Life is so generous a giver.
But we, judging its gifts by their covering,
cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power.Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel's hand that brings it to you.Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel's hand is there.The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.
Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath itscovering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.
Courage then to claim it; that is all!But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together,wending through unknown country home.
And so, at this time, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greetings,but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, now andforever, the day breaks and shadows flee away.
In our day we see similar powers at work. But we too can reach out and touch the angel's hand and know that all of creation has come to our particular life. Everything that has been comes to be in you and I. The Navajo say to walk in beauty - to be in harmony and bring harmony. We can choose how to be in our place and our time - no matter how much life we have to live. Each of can be the messengers that Isaiah reveals - how beautiful are those who bring good news. It is our choice - now and always. Share the good news.
~ Fra Giovanni ~