From The Rector…
One of my favorite film scenes is the opening (and closing) shots at the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport in the movie, Love Actually. Basically, it is just shot after shot of people welcoming their loved ones with smiles and hugs and kisses. Hugh Grant has a monologue in that opening scene that reminds us that “love is actually all around”. His words help us to remember that the world is not filled with the hatred and greed that we allow ourselves to believe sometimes. He points to the events of 9/11 when the planes hit the Twin Towers; the phone messages left that day were not filled with hatred or revenge, but words of love. I remember several years ago visiting the memorial and museum built on the site of the Towers—you could listen to the phone messages left that day in 2001. They are heart-breaking and, yet, comforting in their reminder that love is at the basis of all our relationships. Relationships aren’t worth having if they aren’t grounded in love.
As Christians, our relationship with God is grounded in the love we first knew on that Christmas morn so long ago. A loving God gave of himself to us by becoming fully human in order to walk beside us, to share in our laughter and our tears, to die as one of us. He knows our sorrows and sufferings, but he also knows our joys and our loves. Christ breaks in and greets us as he would have us to greet one another—with a sacrificial love that brings joy to those who come into our presence. A love that sets aside the bad day we might be having or the little hurts and grudges we have nursed in the person of the one we greet. Instead of greeting one another tersely, Christ would have us welcome in the other, setting aside our pride and replacing pursed lips and stony faces with joy—smiles and hugs and kisses. Why wouldn’t we want to do just that—make another feel better than ourselves?
We each know how much we look forward to our dog greeting us when we come home. The joy that rushes up in your heart as that wagging tail and slobbery kiss is received. How much more joy might we spread in this world if we greeted one another with as much enthusiasm? And what if it wasn’t simply greeting one another when we came home from work or school? What if we extended that kind of joy-filled greeting to each new day…each new experience or opportunity we are given?
I think about how little children greet Christmas morning. How they will wake-up early in the morning and as soon as they realize what day it is, they will rush out of bed and into the living room to see what they might discover under the tree. Theirs has been one of long anticipation for a fat man in a red suit to break into their home and leave presents behind. How much might our anticipation be realized whenever we witness Christ breaking into our own lives and leaving his gifts of wonder and joy behind? How might our own perspective on life, on other people, on this world change if we approached every day like a child does Christmas morning?
Christmas joy does not mean that hardships and sufferings will not happen—it means that we know there is something more in this world and the next that our true hope lies in. God sends his son to the earth to be born under miserable circumstances—an unwed mother, a long journey, a filthy stable because there is no room for you in this world—and the life that will grow and know love will eventually die a humiliating and miserable death on a cross. God knows all of this and yet, he sends joy to us in the form of his son and all the life that he will live and share with us. God is under no illusion that life will be easy or that Jesus will be welcome in this world—he seems to know that the opposite is true. Yet, he welcomes us in and greets us with joy.
Welcome happy morning need not only be our song at Easter, but in this time of Christmas and every day that we wake with Jesus in our hearts. Welcome the day, welcome one another, welcome all that God will do for you and for this world filled with love and joy and peace—even and especially in the face of greed, hatred, and fear.
Light and Life,