#Gift is the reflection for December 24, 2015. Christmas is about the Gift. What kind of gift are we talking and how does it fit under the tree, or does it? Listen here in this reflection: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay #MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #HuffPo #Rejoice #Unloveable #MSAWordfortheDay #MySpiritualAdvisor
For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for December 24, 2015 The Eve of the Nativity of our Lord.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 2:1-20.
Christmas is about the Gift.
An acquaintance of mine, Father Kenneth Tanner, of the Charismatic Episcopal Church wrote in the Huffington Post this week:
At the dedication of the Temple, Solomon said of this tightly wrapped bundle of dust, “the heaven of heavens cannot contain you.” Yet contained he was for nine months within this weary teenager, smeared with dirt, sweaty from her labor, catching her breath in time with this baby, the One who in the beginning breathed the stars into the astonished sky above them.
The beginning and end of the Christian revelation of God, of all that Jesus does for us and for our salvation, is this baby, this mother, this manger, this dust, this sweat, these halting breaths.
Rejoice! Again, I say Rejoice! The Savior has come! Hallelujah! For one day, one moment, one minute, we can stop everthing and contemplate that there is one person who does not hold against us what we hold against ourselves; one person who does not hate us as we often hate ourselves; one person who meets us and greets us as a baby does, with hopeful expectation: Jesus Christ, the Lord!
I had this vision of Jesus’ birth this week. It was a vision of a back alley in which rags were laid in an oil stained cardboard box, where two teen age kids were reclining uncomfortably. He is a gang banger. She is his baby mama. Lined up to see what happened in that back alley are pimps and prostitutes, dealers and junkies, slumlords and renters, homeless with promise, homeless with mental illness, mayors and constituents, casino owners and gamblers, contractors and laborers, and these are just the first. We have a while before the fat cats, oil barons, hedge fund operators, presidents, and prime ministers come to see what happened in that back alley; the coming of the Lover of the unloveable.
Here is what they saw: that the God who created the heavens and the earth, who blew into us the breath of life; who gave us the Grand Canyon, the Grand Tetons, the Niagara Falls, the Victoria Falls, the Milky Way, the galaxies upon galaxies, the God of the Universe came to let us know that he was on our side. The Father sent the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit to be born on this night.
Where do we imagine that the giving of gifts comes from? Where do we think the profoundest act of mercy comes from? Where do we think that the desire to know one another in intimacy comes from? It comes from God! This moment! This baby! This birth! This is the moment that as he comes defenseless as a baby in the middle of the night, we will not be the ones who are without help. We will be the ones who are aided to get to heaven by God himself! This Advent, there has been a constant theme running through my [reflections] sermons: the God we know.
The God we know is the God who does not want to make us try and try and try, but not succeed in our attempts to get to heaven. The God we know is the God who doesn’t want to stand far off in the heavens waiting for us to mess up. The God we know is not the one who wants us to attempt in vain to get to heaven, sense his justice, and be his righteousness. The God we know comes in one humble, vulnerable, and human act to say, “I AM God who saves.”
He emptied himself. How much more could you empty yourself from being the God of the Universe, through Whom all things are than to be a human baby who must be fed, changed, clothed, defended, wiped, cleaned, and do what mama and daddy say? The message is simple: Be subject to one another because he made himself subject to us.
What is love? Love is the giving of the self for others without the expectation of getting back. Love is jumping in front of a bullet to save children in a school shooting. Love is leaving your own treatment for illness to feed the homeless. Love is forgiving what cannot and should not be forgiven. Love is being faithful to our commitments when there is not abuse involved. Love laughs. Love smiles. Love is amazed. Love is joy. Love is looking at another human being and knowing that they have pain, and feeling that pain because you will allow yourself to do it. How do we know what love is? We know because this baby, this child, this little one lying in a manger on this night 2,000 years ago showed us how to love.
In the face of evil, abuse of power, corruption, jealousy, anger, fighting, malice, deceit, betrayal, beatings, lies, and abandonment, Jesus is born to say that life is worth living. Life is worth loving. Live is worth being, doing, and saying. It is because in the midst of the same climate 2,000 years ago, Jesus is born to be the bridge to eternal life and hope for us all.
It was on this night that the Son came forth as Jesus. The Son who is the Word. The Word through whom St. John says, “without him not one thing came into being”, that Son is born of a woman. The Word is made flesh and dwells as a humble child who will rise up to be a man; a child born so that he should die. He is the gift; the gift that God is on our side, here with us, helping us to heaven.
So, go home. Give your gifts. Laugh. Rejoice. It is God who showed you how. It is Jesus who shows you now. He is the Gift. Amen.
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