Our Hope Made Flesh
Rev. Jeffrey Symynkywicz, Christmas Eve, December 24, 2008
Emily Dickinson wrote that:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all…
But at Christmas, our hope comes not from a bird with feathers, but from a tiny newborn babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.
From the weakest and the most vulnerable comes that which is most resilient and most powerful; out of the silence and darkness and simplicity of that first Christmas comes the hope that resounds through the ages, that lights our days and fires our nights, and that has inspired humankind’s greatest outpouring of faith and hope and love.
Now, the hope of Christmas perches in our souls, eternally—and sings the exultant alleluia of a hope that will never die, a hope made flesh and come to dwell among us, and within us—and meant to live-- live-- now in these days of ours upon the earth.
Christmas Eve is the great convergence between heaven and earth; the holy vortex between our hopes and our fears. It is that night divine—that holy moment—when God’s hand touches the stable at
Every child that is born, it has been said, is evidence that God has not given up on this human race of ours. With every child that is born, our hope is born anew.
Through the birth of Jesus, we now know that our humanity and our divinity are intimately intertwined; that every child—every human being—can be a reflection of the divine, holy in his or her essence—“a little piece of the Lord’s undying light.” Standing before the babe in the manger—standing before the cradle of any newborn child— our hearts are pierced by the most profound sense of awe and beauty we can know. It is here that we know most clearly our connection with the God who made us, and our place in the great sweep of human and cosmic history. The birth of this child—and the hope it
engenders—provide the missing words of our lives’ prayers. We now know at last that there is meaning and purpose at the heart of human existence, however bruised and battered this fouled and confused world might leave us sometimes, The birth of this child is “living proof” that, whatever the world might deal us, God’s mercy beats at the very heart of creation.
The shining hope of Christmas can lift the darkness from our souls—if we open our hearts to it. But it is a fragile hope—as fragile as a newborn child, and just as precious.
Often, once we leave the child’s crib, or the manger, or when the sparkling lights of Christmas are shut off, that hope lies forgotten by the side of the road.
It is said that when God finished with Creation, He had a desire to leave something behind, just a small piece of divinity, which He named “Hope”. But God was a little bit of a trickster, too, so He didn’t want it to be too easy for human beings to find this precious gift.. “Where should I hide it?” He asked the stars and planets. “Where should I hide ‘hope’?”
“How about up in the heavens, with us?” one of the stars suggested.
God thought about it, and said finally, “No, they’re too clever for that. One day, human beings will invent rocket ships and go and explore the stars, and then, they’ll find it there.”
“Well, how about down here with us?” asked the depths of the ocean. So God thought about it, and said finally, “No, some day, they’ll explore the depths of the sea, too. So, they’ll find it there.”
Then all of a sudden, God had an epiphany: “Ah-ha!” He said. “I know where to hide ‘Hope’. I’ll hide it inside of themselves. They’ll never look for it there!”
But that is where it is, this hope of ours: it is inside of us, within us; in our heart and nerve and sinew; in our minds and in our souls. Our hope, too, must be made flesh if it is to come alive in this world.
Hope is always borne by men and women—and children, too—like us. Human beings, no more than that. But mark this, too: no less than that. No less than fully human, which means we have that spark of divinity in our souls. No less than fully human, fully open to the potentialities of the Spirit working, moving, transforming each and every moment of human history and our personal histories; transforming the often dull and turgid prose of human existence into the vibrant, dancing, singing poetry of hope.
Yea, though we walk through the darkest valleys, hope abides.
In the bleakest midwinter, hope abides. In the bleakest, gray years, hope abides. Amid our deepest disappointments, hope abides.
Deep in our souls, the lamp of hope shines; kindled by faith; kept burning through the oils of love.
Through our love, in all of its wondrous forms, hope is kept burning. Through our caring and compassion; through our sacrifice and effort; through our sharing the gifts of love as widely as we may.
Hope is a gift from God. But it is a divine gift which bears a human face. Like ours.
It is a divine gift passed down by fragile human hands. Like ours.
Hope is a gift from God. But it only comes alive if it is made flesh and blood within the living of our days.
The Christmas hope is an endless alleluia that reverberates from that stable at
May that song continue to sing in your souls, as well.
May your days be merry and bright. And may all your Christmases and all your new years be blessed with the sacred gift of hope.