Sermon preached by Archdeacon Trevor Harrison at the Midnight Mass of the Nativity 25 December 2019 It’s a marvellous, wonderful,... read more
This evening no doubt I will weep. Tomorrow, no doubt I will weep. I won’t be able to help myself. Yes of course I could just go through the motions of these services, and let them just flow over me. But I don’t want to do that. I want to enter into the Lord’s passion. What we are doing this night and over the next three days, the solemn triddium is recalling, calling to mind and to heart, the most important events of human history. Remembering – making present into our reality
And I want to be there. For Christ’s journey is my journey too. And it’s yours, for we are human beings. This is all about us. This week draws us deeply into our search, our yearning, our angst, for what it means to be human, who am I? what gives meaning and value and purpose to our lives. I know God loves me; God loves me so much that nothing I do, no matter how wicked, sinful or stupid will stop God in Christ loving me totally, unconditionally and forever.
And I know I am not worthy. I know I fall short of the God given potential in me. I sin, I miss the mark, to miss the bulls eye on the target. Paul talk about this in Romans chapter 7 when he says ‘I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate.’ How true is that. Lord Jesus Christ son of the living God have mercy on me a sinner.
So I weep for my sins. I weep for all our sins. I weep for the horrors that we humans perpetrate on one another, on the tragedy of pain and horror which is engulfing our world. I weep for all those moments I when turn away, when I don’t have the courage to stand against all that denies life and love. Do you know the Franciscan blessing of discomfort? It is this:
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, So that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless you with tears To shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them And turn their pain into joy. And may God bless you with enough foolishness, To believe that you can make a difference in this world, So that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
I weep because I am like Peter and will deny my Lord. I will weep at the foot of the cross and I will pray for forgiveness and that God will make me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.
And you know what. He will and he does. His love is so much for me and for you that he will kneel down and wash my feet, he will serve me. He will love me into life. What love is this? And he will die for me because of the sin of the world. These three days tell us what we find so hard to grasp, so hard to beleive, that all that separates and injures and destroys cannot ovewhelm us, cannot have the last word. Against all the odds, evil and death will be overcome by all that unites and heals and creates. How coud I say this to those who are at this moment suffering the pain of war, of death and destruction. How can I say this when so many are suffering from the sheer cuelty of human beings to one another. So much I do not understand, but what I do know is that this crucifixion is the embodiment of all that evil, and that that evil will not triumph. For life is stronger than death and love is stronger than hate.
That's why I love the piece of wrting by Dom Gregory Dix which you will hear soon. Because whenever communion is being celebrated it is the most important event that is happening in the uiniverse at that moment. Jesus takes the bread and gives it to his friends 'Take eat. This is my body which I give for you. Do this to remember me.' Drink this all of you. This is my blood which I shed for. Do this to remember me'. I play with the word 'remember'. Yes remember,because I keep forgetting that thanks to Jesus, life is stronger than death and love is stronger than hate. Not only in this act of communion, but always and in every moment. That's how things are. And also re – member. Make it real now. The real presence of Christ. So I bow, I genuflect, I treat this sacrament with awe and deep respect. For this little wafer and this cup of wine are given through grace such signifiance. So I offer my empty, yearning hands, my heart and say yes. Yes, you love me, you forgive me, you call me to be the person you created me to be, you have confidence in me even though so often I get it wrong. You will never stop calling me and drawing me into fullnes of life, though I too may end up on a cross.
What a mystery is this. What love is this. We tremble before such love. O love that will not let me go, this night I rest my weary soul in thee. And from the depth of my being I thank you, and reach out for your embrace to once again give me courage to stand, to be your faithful and fallible friend. I take the bread, I sip the wine and I will wait with you this night and allow the power of these next few days through the grace of your holy spirit to do their work with me. May this be so for you too. Amen