Tuesday, December 25, 2007

RCL - Christmas Eve - 24 Dec 2007

Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY

Br. Reginald Martin Crenshaw, OHC

RCL - Christmas Eve - Year A

“Oh I’m so Glad”

At this feast of the Nativity let each person wreathe the door of his heart so that the Holy Spirit may delight in that door enter in and take up residence there; then by the Spirit we will be made holy. Ephrem of Syria

With these words let each of us say to ourselves “Oh I’m so glad”. I am so Glad that by Christ’s birth we are able to experience the divine in a profound way. Glad that each of us with all our limitations and gifts, and foibles have within us the space in our very being to receive the Spirit so that we can be made holy.

Then how do we become holy? How do we let the door of our hearts open so that the spirit may enter? How do we welcome the event this day celebrates that is, the entrance of the divine into human life. How receptive are we really to this Christ, this wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace into our lives? What is this peace and righteousness that his birth brings into our space? And more specifically, the question is: “To whom do we belong? And how do we travel together as people of God?

This evening’s Isaiah reading tells us that we were once a people in darkness and upon this people (that is us-humanity) light has shined on us and the result is that we will live differently. A child has been born who is mighty the Prince of Peace, a wise counselor. He will establish and uphold the earth with justice and righteousness from this time onward. This child who is God among us brings salvation to all. That is what we celebrate and it is to that hope and reality that our identity as a people becomes enfleshed.

I have just returned from an extended trip to the West Coast, and as usual people still ask, “How do you like New York?” or better yet, “Do you still like New York? You of course are aware of the answer they are looking for. It should be a hesitant yes, or I getting tired of the hustle and bustle. And of course they all sigh with gratitude that once again the “Big Apple gets trashed.”

If we look at New York City this time of the year we find that it is a wonderful place to be at during the Advent and Christmas Seasons. New York City itself is festive. Many of the great Biblical oratorios that are usually sung in concert halls are done in the great churches and the acoustics allows a true spiritual experience and engagement with the music. People seem to be less edgy, there is a level of tolerance and a live and let live attitude that is amplified with graciousness, kindness and an apparent sense of community. This festive behavior is a tacit agreement by all of us to suspend the normal hustle and bustle of hurried city existence in the name of a “peace”. Yet this peace exists side by side with commercialism and consumerism. But somehow the winter weather and the implicit belief of most people that this is the time of the year when peace, peacefulness, graciousness should be exhibited in day to day behavior. And then the season ends and we return to the day to day behaviors that we have put on hold for the season. We return to what we call reality.

What is reality? Reality are the things that are covered up, the things that are covered up and are very hard to unearth. One of those things that we seem to cover up is hope. We often live without hope. But Hope is a crucial component of human life because it is the energy that gives us the will to live and provides the vision for knowing what the good life is.

Reality is the good news that this incarnation of God in human life and consciousness is not a seasonal salvation, it is about the essence of human and divine life together, it is a partnership. It is through this birth of Christ, God becoming one of us. The incarnation is the place, the entrance to the communal and individual heart so that the Spirit may enter and take residence among you and us and make you and us holy.

The entrance is where the human meets the divine and in the intermingling of human and divine each partakes of the other. It is in God entering into human existence that makes all human life and all social contexts a part of the salvation scheme. This morning’s Isaiah reading makes this clear. No matter how much we try we are not permitted to forget about the people and the world around us. The question of who is our neighbor and what our relationship must be to our neighbor is laid before us in this birth of Christ with astounding clarity.

And what realities do we need to unearth and keep before us during this season? Besides individual acts of kindness, and the exercise of patience, and festivity we need to pay attention to the realities of our communal life. Realities such as the extreme global poverty and disease as well as the unnecessary poverty in the US, the need of finding a better path to national and global security, the hope of advancing a consistent ethic of the sanctify of life, the hope to healing the wounds of racism so that what happened in Jena LA this past year and in other places are addressed & effectively eliminated. The need and importance of a positive understanding and appreciation of the body so that the reality of exclusion due to sexism and homophobia is addressed, and eliminated, The need for ending human trafficking and for promoting human rights, the strengthening of families, the renewing of the moral fabric of our culture, and protecting all of God’s creation. These are the realties that are held up to us, for action by the birth, the incarnation of the mighty God, Counselor, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace who through his becoming one of us as Isaiah says, establishes a new humanity that will be secure in justice and integrity from this time onward and forever more. All of this we carry into this festive occasion and we celebrate all of it as INCARNATION.

Let me end with the words of Julian of Vezelay:

I pray that the Word of the Lord may come again this night to those who wait in silence, and that we may hear what the Lord God is saying to us in our hearts. Let us therefore, still the desires and cravings of the flesh, the roving fantasies of our imaginations. So that we can attend to what the Spirit is saying.

No comments: