Glimpses of Love

Posted by on Jan 5, 2015 in Sermons | 0 comments

Sermon Title:  Glimpses of Love

Date: 24 December 2014

Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Champbers

Church Calendar Date: Christmas Eve 2014

Lectionary Reading:  Isiah 9:2-7, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-14

 

The year was 1914. It was Christmas Eve.

The man-made trenches were six to eight feet deep and stretched it seemed forever.  In between was what was called ‘no man’s land. A place if you tried to cross you would surely be killed. It was winter and everything was covered in ice.

This was World War 1 on the battle fields of Flanders. Germans on one side, and British and French on the other.

On Christmas Eve, 100years ago tonight, German troops began decorating the area around their trenches for Christmas. They began by placing candles on trees, and then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols, most notably “Stille Nacht” (Silent Night).

The Scottish troops in the trenches across from them responded by singing English carols.

The Germans then asked the British to join in.  At this point, one very defiant Tommy shouted: “we’d rather die than sing German.” To which a German joked aloud: “It would kill us if you did.”

The two sides shouted Christmas greetings to each other and then they came out of their trenches into No Man’s land and exchanged gifts, like whisky, jam, cigars etc and the played soccer together.

They were also able to bury the dead and they did this together; German, French and British, paid their respects.

In some places, the truce lasted into Christmas day and even to New Year’s Day and happened each Christmas Eve.

Glimpses of Love. Yes, glimpses of love.

It doesn’t take much to think about other glimpses of love: the display of flowers in Martin Place for the people killed and the care given to their families. The #ILLRIDEWITHYOU saying we care about each other. The prayers offered for the 132 children and teachers slaughtered in a Pashawar school in Pakistan and for the family members murdered in Cairns…and there are many atrocities we don’t hear about and our hearts ache for what us humans do to each other. Sometimes it’s all too much and still inside each of us are words saying:  ‘we want peace, we want harmony, we want more love in the world.

Even when it’s tough we still see Glimpses of love..yes, glimpses of love.

More locally, we may know personally of those who have been made redundant recently, or finding it difficult to get a job and the financial strain on the family is immense, or of those who have loved ones who live in other countries, those with serious illness or in palliative care, those whose relationships are fragile and the stress around the expectations at Christmas is so great.

If we didn’t care, these relationships wouldn’t move us.

Glimpses of love, yes, glimpses of love.

There are also those we don’t know but we have heard that the gifts we have as a parish, recently given for homeless men and to women and children in refuges have given much joy and hope that they are not forgotten.

Glimpses of love…yes, glimpses of love.

In our church family here at St Paul’s we hold together both the joys and sadness of each other’s lives. We pray and give thanks for healing of body, mind and spirit; of the weddings, births of babies, baptisms that we celebrate here, we welcome newcomers to our community, we give thanks for the lives of those who have died, who have been so much a part of this community of faith.

Glimpses of love – yes, glimpses of love.

Change occurs all the time whether we like it or not.

Susie Rosback, our Director of the kindergarten has resigned recently and has taken a position as CEO of an early learning hub. We are advertising for a new director to start in the New Year.  She will be missed at the Kinder.

Our Kate, family and children’s minister is leaving us in the New Year. We are excited and delighted for her and also sad that she is leaving and her boys, Hamish and Josh. We will miss them greatly.

Both Susie and Kate have a deep commitment to the well-being of children.

Glimpses of love- yes, glimpses of love.

Tonight/today, we sit and listen to the story of the birth of Jesus. A beautiful story of vulnerability; of commitment and faith by his parents.

A birth story that has changed the way the world thinks about itself …if we dare.

Yes, humans are capable of the worst possible atrocities to each other and our planet.

We are also capable of amazing acts of kindness.  Time and again we hear of people putting themselves at risk to help someone in need; for the men in the trenches to risk climbing out of their trenches to meet and shake hands with the enemy.

Our Anglican Primate and Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, in his Christmas letter said “conflict is part of the human condition.  But Jesus’ birth points us all to a different reality. His birth reveals a power to change and transform, that is greater than ourselves.”

Glimpses of love – yes, glimpses of love.

The Bishop of Peshawar said “we must go on striving to be a source of comfort, of hope and reconciliation – that is the role of the church- in good times and bad.

In 1914, the singing of Christmas carols rang out along the trenches in German, French and English. What a surreal experience that must have been.

Glimpses of love are everywhere! We just need to be look through another window at our reality to see it! ..there is more to our lives than greed, war, jealousy, drugs, prejudice. There is the capacity to love; and love is such a strong, potent antidote that we need to share around.

God came down and became one of us. Why? Because this God of mystery and love is also one who loves what is made and what continues to evolve!

From a tiny, helpless baby…held in the arms of his mother, Mary, is a sign for all of us to not forget the story…not forget our true calling as human beings.  Remember what it felt like holding a newborn in our arms..

We all have potential to grow and change and to surrender more and more into the arms of God…this God of love.

Glimpses of love…yes, lots of glimpses of love!!

On Christmas Eve, 100 years ago, in an unlikely place…love was evident.

As one German soldier recorded in his diary:  “The English brought a soccer ball from the trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued.  How marvellously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it.  Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as friends for a time.”

 

The Lord be with you.

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