It is Christmas Eve, the end of our Advent waiting, and the approach of the holy season of remembering and celebrating the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. Throughout the Advent season I have pondered and prayed the Daily Word offered by the brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE). SSJE is a monastic community of The Episcopal Church & The Anglican Church of Canada, with a Monastery and Guesthouse in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and another retreat facility (Emory House) in Newburyport, Massachusetts. During Advent the brothers offered a Daily Word and invited people to pray this word and post pictures to social media that gave expression to each word. I did not post pictures, but I paid attention to the words. Here they are in order of appearance: Look, Remember, Imagine, Thrive, Abide, Notice, Watch, Show Up, Respond, Encourage, Wake Up, Breathe, Act, Risk, Expand, Focus, Experience, Become, Beautify, Heal, Thank, Relate, Delight, and Love.
As you might have noticed, each of these words is a verb, an action word, and each offers support for the faith journey into which Christ welcomes each and every seeker. These words remind me that the Christian faith and life is about active living in response to God’s invitation to share in God’s reconciling mission for the world.
So, what about Christmas? Well, I peeked, and took a look at the Daily Word for Christmas Day. The word is RECEIVE! There it is! There is Christmas: the Incarnation, the Birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. The birth of Jesus is all about a gift, a divine gift we are invited to receive and embrace and become and live and share. As we receive and embrace that gift, those action words become part of our daily life and living. Each Daily Word is in reality a response we are invited to make to the gift we have been given, the gift we received in the birth of Jesus in the manger of that Bethlehem home so very long ago.
At each celebration of the Eucharist, the SSJE brothers extend the invitation to receive communion with the words “Behold what you are.” The response we make is “May we become what we receive.” My prayer, my hope, my invitation this Christmas, is that you will become what you have received: a gift of reconciling love to a hurting world in need of God’s love, care, forgiveness, justice, and joy.
One of my favorite Christmas images is of a young child lying under the Christmas tree looking up through the branches. The caption, as best I recall, says something like: “I’m practicing to be a present.” My Christmas wish and hope for each of us this Holy Night is that we might “become what we receive”– a gift of God’s reconciling love to the world. As my favorite Christmas Hymn says: “Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.”
A blessed Christmas to you all,
See more at http://ssje.org/word/