Thursday, December 27, 2007

Life @ The Crossing: Finding Jesus

Blessed Christmas, friends! We waited, we breathed deep, we prayed to have wide enough hearts to receive the coming Savior. And now he's here.

Yes, I know, it's not as if it was a great mystery, not as if Jesus was technically gone and now he's magically reappeared. But if you allowed yourself to enter the reflective darkness of Advent, to get in touch with your deepest yearning and even some disquieting sense of distance from God -- and who doesn't experience that distance at some point in the spiritual life? -- well, if you let yourself be honest about that yearning and that keening hope, then Christmas is like seeing the dawn from on high. It's finding God again. It's feeling God born inside you.

We won't worship tonight @ The Crossing -- The Cathedral building is closed and most folks (like me!) are still flung across the country visiting family and friends -- so we'll gather again on JANUARY 3. But I hope you'll take some opportunity tonight or this week to get quiet, to reflect, to pray, to stay open, to listen for what God is saying. Sure, the year-end sales are calling. But God is calling, too ...

Grooving in the name of Christ,
Rev. Steph

p.s. And for some extra inspiration, here's a copy of the sermon I preached at The Cathedral on Christmas morning. It's very much in The Crossing-style -- brief, focused on the gospel and its implications in our lives -- and even includes a few questions and space for community reflection at the end. Imagine all of us gathered by candlelight to share some wisdom & celebrate the life of God, enfleshed and moving in the world.

“Finding Jesus”
Christmas Day 2007 @ St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral-Boston
Rev. Stephanie Spellers, Minister for Radical Welcome

The Gospel of John, Chapter 1, Verses 1-5 and 10-14:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

[The Light] was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.

Let us pray: Come, Holy One, come, my Redeemer; come, Lord Jesus, and be born in me, live in me, grow in me, until my life is transformed by your life and I seek only to know your love and to make your love known. Amen.

Jep Streit – the dean of the Cathedral – called me last night before the Christmas Eve Vigil service, looking for the baby Jesus to add to the crèche. And I had to laugh, because people were right here, in church, looking for Jesus. And nobody knew where to find him. “Is he in the cabinet in the Sacristy?” “Nope.” “Is he in the Candle Room closet?” “Don’t think so.” Well then, where is he?

He’s such a tiny baby, so I suppose he’s easy to lose. And let’s be honest: in the midst of the holiday season – a shopping season that technically began this year right after the Halloween decorations came down on November 1 – in the midst of all that hype and hustle, it’s almost impossible to keep track of Jesus.

I wonder if that’s why you’re here, why we’re all here at church this Christmas morning: trying to find Jesus again, trying to make sure we catch the awesome miracle of his birth and all the light, the hope, the sheer power and transformative possibility his life – the life of God – brings into the world.

I wonder, I really do wonder, is that what you’re hoping to find? Is that why you’re here? Is that why you opted out of the 10,000 other things you could be doing right now (and perhaps should be doing) – worthwhile things like sleeping in, traveling to see family, sipping coffee and watching a papal mass on TV.

Sure, you had those choices. But maybe you woke up like I did, so aware, so curious, so hopeful. I’ve been looking forward to this day, and to being with you right here, because I’m looking forward to all of us getting to see Jesus.

I want to find Jesus, because I want the light, the light John talks about. The light that is brighter than the sun, even on this gorgeous Christmas morning. I want to see the true light, the true hope, the savior, the one who brings light into every dark corner of this world and of our own hearts.

Charles Wesley knew a lot about that light. He wrote these lyrics back in the 1700s, his ode to the God who came to earth at Christmas:
O thou who camest from above
the fire celestial to impart,
kindle a flame of sacred love
on the mean altar of my heart.
I think he was praying for the light, the fire, the brightness of God, to light up something inside him and around him. He knew his heart was prone to drift, that it was a crude and ill-formed altar to God. So he begged God: You, who came to earth to show us just what the life and love of God are all about, now that you’ve come here, now that you’re with us, please reach into me, kindle in me the flame of love for God, so that I burn with holy fire, so that even when it seems there’s no reason and no way to hope, your light will shine in me, warm me, light my path and I will keep moving with your people toward your kingdom.

Charles Wesley was looking for that light at Christmas. I wonder: Have you come looking for it, too?

I wonder if you’ve come looking for life. The real life that you only find when your life has been transformed, turned inside out, taken over by God, like Mary allowing the very life of God to take up residence in her womb. I wonder if you want true life, the life we find when we invite Jesus to come all the way in, with all that light and all that power, to make us his brothers and sisters, to make us the very children of God.

I wonder: What are you looking to find, in this little baby Jesus? What does he mean to you? What does he change for you? What does his life make possible in yours? Sit with that question today. Use it as a mantra throughout this Christmas season. And receive the blessing of the one who has come, the one whose deepest desire is to find and be found by you ...

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