Seniors’ Christmas Eucharist
December 13th – Rev’d Heather Westbrook …
“Tis the season to be jolly…”, so the song says. Tis the season when we repeatedly ask the question: What should I give them? What should I give the friend, the family member? It can be a pain and not a particularly jolly experience. Just think of the awful scenes you see in crowded shopping malls at Christmas.
Yet we continue to put a lot of time and energy into that question. When the question that we should be focusing on is: What should I give to God? In fact the answer to that question ultimately reveals what others should receive from us as well. Which begs this question: What does God want from us?
Looking back to Old Testament scripture, the prophet Micah attempted to answer the question: What does God require of us? Micah 6 states: You are to “…act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Justice and mercy speak to the second commandment, to the way we treat others. It can mean loving the unlovely even when they don’t love you back. This applies not just to the stranger but to everyone in our life. It speaks to our obligation to love people who don’t necessarily care for us. And that’s a tough one. For this reason Christmas gatherings can be difficult.
All is useless Micah says, unless we give our heart to God. I’m not referring here to the valentines heart, to emotion and infatuation, but rather to ‘the place of knowing that holds you fast’ – holds you together body mind and soul. The greatest gift for God is to give your heart. Justice Mercy and humility will be the fruits because they are matters of the heart. What a blessing it is to see mercy manifest itself. Not only in a big way though outreach projects but in how we minister to our neighbor – the guy sitting next to us.
Concerning mercy, perhaps you have heard this quote: The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. Twice blessed, blessing him that gives and him that receives. (W. Shakespeare)
At Christmas and throughout the year, God knocks at the door of our heart. God comes to give us his Spirit, the Spirit of peace and love, the Spirit of kindness whereby we begin to walk in the paths of peace with one another. But will we make room for him and live a life in which we are attentive to the word?
Our heart can get pretty cluttered up with things that prevent us from making room. Worry, anger, resentment, lack of forgiveness –it’s tragic and it happens to us all the time. It can happen when life is not fair, when we experience a loss. Perhaps the loss of our standard of living, or our home, or our independence, or our health, or losing loved ones- the broken relationships. The classic example of a cluttered heart is the Christmas character Ebenezer Scrooge, before the advent of the ghosts. He was chained to his anger and unforgiveness.
What God requires of us is that we deal with the clutter in our heart. In the words of the carol we will be singing shortly ‘Joy to the world the Lord has come, let earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare him room…”. So we should prepare him room. When we listen to the words of the carols we realize that they not only speak to the nativity story but to our own journey as well. We are about to hear Joy play another carol called Bleak Mid-Winter. It asks the question: What shall I give to Jesus this Christmas? It reads: What shall I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I’d give him a lamb. If I were a wise man, I’d do my part. What shall I give him; I’ll give him my heart.
It has been said that the wisdom of the wise men was opening their hearts and giving of themselves in love, as God did on that first Christmas when He gave of himself in the person of Jesus. (R. Prichard) This Christmas may we have open hearts to discover the Christ within, and may we support those around us on the journey.
Lord grant me the grace to let go of worries, resentments, anger and to be free from the chains of unforgiveness.
Cleanse my heart and soul from clutter so I can make room for you.
Let me open my heart to receive all the gifts that I need at this time.
May I live joyously in your love this Christmas day and always.