Our Greatest Gifts
Unfortunately, the pianist had a proclivity for becoming, er, um, ‘filled with the spirit’ before he came to the nursing homes and he was in more need of the Zimmer frames to get about than the residents. Compounding the situation was the fact that although he was an accomplished musician, his Jack Daniels infused repertoire would begin with Silent Night, but somehow segue into an impromptu rendition of Let Me Entertain You from the musical Gypsy, complete with leg kicks and gyrations!
Willem described the last week of Advent as my week of “überchurch.” Well, I suppose he’s right. It is a week of ‘heavy church’ for us, the clergy. But it’s part of our vows to be there and it’s part of our natural composite which makes us want to serve.
But there are many others who labour so hard during this time of year to make the season of Christmas come to life. From the kindness of their hearts, people come from their busy homes and their demanding jobs to decorate the church, wash and iron the fresh altar linens, polish the silver and brass, arrange the flowers and prepare for our celebration of Christ’s birth. All of their labour is to the glory of God.
In many ways, I see the selfless work these kind souls perform as redemptive. It’s reflected in the eloquent squares of crisp white linens, in the purificators, in the gleam of the freshly polished chalice and paten – they speak of a restored human nature, of the rough places levelled and straightened, of all the stains of human life on earth removed in Christ.
The holly and the ivy that adorn the pews promise renewal to the people of God in the depths of Winter. And I believe that these physical things can often speak volumes to the masses of people who will arrive on Christmas Eve but not at other times. It may be that they don’t think much about God during any other time of the year. But it may just be that this one time, those loving touches of colour added by a dedicated team of ‘miracle makers’ could awaken something within them – something that helps them begin to hear with their inner ear.
This all came to mind this evening as I stood in the cemetery, surrounded by the solstice dark. I’ve just returned from hospital in Eastbourne where a friend lingers in the balance between death and life. He has been in a coma for the past three days. His wife refuses to leave his side.
As Mr Piddles did his reconnaissance check around the perimeter of the cemetery, in search of UFO’s (unidentified furry objects), I took the opportunity to look up at the bright constellations.
I thought about the tragic events that occurred in Newtown Connecticut and the families whose lives will never be the same. I thought about the adults who gave their lives for the children and how an entire community will never be the same as a consequence of a nation exercising their rights. And I thought about the six-year-old who just days later, carried his parent's gun with him to school, according to the child, 'at the suggestion of his parents.' I prayed that these events will now be the turning point for change.
And I focused my thoughts on the countless children whose lives never become part of a media frenzy - those who are trafficked, sold, abused, tortured, and disposed of, with as little thought as the flick of a cigarette ash. I prayed that their lives receive just a trace of attention and action.
And then I gave thanks to God for all that is good in our lives and for the fact that we are connected with one another in a bond that cannot be severed, and that we can weep together, just as we can also rejoice.
Father Bill Haymaker +
Postat căci Tata Bill