Let us light a candle, take a deep breath, and pray together:
Living God, Christ Mystery, Spirit of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace,
we give you thanks for this holy moment together.
As we take in the light you offer,
may we be a reflection of your light,
expanding our sacred time “right now”
into the sacred memory of “always and for all time.”
Quotes Ancient and New
Isaiah 52: 7-10 (NRSVUE)
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices;
together they shout for joy,
for in plain sight they see
the return of the Lord to Zion.
Break forth; shout together for joy,
you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people;
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.
Every Thing is Sacred, “Reflection 33: Revealed as Light”
“’People who are properly aligned with Love and Light will always see in good ways that are not obvious to the rest of us…[They] reveal a high level of seeing, both in depth and in breadth, which allows them to include more and more and exclude less and less…’”
In the early church, Sunday was known as the “day of light.” And so it is special when Christmas falls on a Sunday, as it does in 2022. As light dawns on this morning, as the children scramble to the tree to see what has appeared, we remember that the sacred comes in the form of surprise sometimes, just as it did when light and life was known anew in the form of a baby in a humble stable. Can we dare to believe that we can know a surprising calm even in the midst of anxiety because of the in-breaking of this Prince of Peace upon our lives each and every day?
Marcia McFee shares a story about a modern day in-breaking of surprise. She writes, “A friend of mine conveyed her story of surprising news to me recently. She tried for years, actually decades, to conceive and bear a child. She tried unsuccessful attempts with a surrogate. Finally she just could not bear the emotional ordeal of it all and told her husband that if he wanted to keep trying the surrogate route, he could. But she told him not to tell her until at least 28 weeks into the pregnancy. And he took her at her word. Now, years after that conversation, when she had completely let go of the idea of raising a child, he came to her to announce that they were about to have a child. That child was recently born. They will travel to receive the baby in another month when it is safe to travel the long distance required to bring him home. As she was telling me, she spoke with surprise and some shock. She is now 62 years old. She exclaimed to me, “It’s crazy, isn’t it?” But I could sense ample delight and awe alongside the apprehension. The Surprisingly Sacred is breaking in upon her life and “God is with her, Emmanuel.”
The surprise that the Incarnation of the Sacred arrived in the first century in the form of a baby is undeniable. This invites us to believe that “just when you least expect it, the Sacred will surprise you too.” Perhaps not as dramatic as Marcia's friend’s surprise, but even the simple presence of kindness from a stranger, or a gift at an unexpected time, or a sunset reflecting amazing colors can invite us to feel like there is more than meets our limited vision of what’s there, of what’s even possible.
In a reflection in Every Thing is Sacred (page 182), Boland quotes Rohr about gifts and their scarcity or abundance, depending on your worldview:
As long as you operate inside any scarcity model, there will never be enough God or grace to go around. Jesus came to undo our notions of scarcity and tip us over into a worldview of absolute abundance–or what he would call the “Reign of God.” The Gospel reveals a divine world of infinity; a worldview of enough and more than enough. Our word for this underserved abundance is “grace” (pages 184-85, The Universal Christ).
Rohr then quotes the Gospel of Luke: “Give and there will be gifts for you: full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, poured into your lap” (Luke 6:38). There will be those who literally do not have enough sustenance this Christmas Day, let alone gifts under the tree. If we have a worldview of “enough and more than enough,” then we will have a gifting habit that makes sure that whatever “more than enough” that we have is shifted to become “enough” in the lives of those whose need is great. Perhaps being the giver of surprises is the way we are also made in the image of the Divine One who surprises us with grace upon grace, time after time. Surprise someone this week in a way that reflects the life light of God in the abundance of grace, love and care available to us that is meant to move through us to those around us. This is the Christmas people will be surprised by.
“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.” — John 1: 1-14
You may have already spent time journaling so if you have, simply read what you have already written for this week in your journal. If you have not written anything, we will take 5 minutes (feel free to extend the time if the group desires) to write whatever comes to us when we encounter the questions for this week:
How have you been surprised by the sacred on this Christmas Day and throughout the entire Advent season?
In what ways are you currently being invited to align “with Love and Light,” to “include more and more and exclude less and less?
Leader: In our conversation, everyone is invited to share, but sharing is not required. Please make room for all voices, keeping your contribution to a respectful time limit so everyone has a chance to speak. Whatever is said here stays here – not because we are telling secrets, but because we honor that what a person says here is their story to share.
I invite you to share something from your journaling or just thoughts that are bubbling up. We will allow uninterrupted speaking on the first round and then open it up for responses to each other. Remember, no one is “right or wrong” when it comes to our understanding of the sacred. We notice what we notice on our faith journey, and no one perspective will be the same. A good way to begin to respond to someone is “I appreciated your reflection about…”