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Reflections, Images, and Videos for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

January 2, 2017

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We shared most precious times of worship together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as we celebrated Our Lord’s Nativity and the Mystery of the Incarnation!

Here are the videos we showed before the 5 p.m. Family Service and 7:30 p.m. Service on Christmas Eve, and our Service on Christmas Day. (The music videos we watched before and after our 10:30 Service, which were more traditional pieces, are at the bottom of this posting.)

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Here, immediately below, are the videos we watched at the beginning of our Liturgies, at 5, 7:30, and 10:30 p.m., respectively.

At each of these Services, our next action was to join Christians throughout the world in singing “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” 

At all 3 Christmas Eve Services, and our Service on Christmas Day, the Nativity of Our Lord according to St. Luke (Luke 2:1-20) was read.

For a text version of this passage, please click here. For John 1:1-18, which was read at all 3 Christmas Eve Services, please click here.

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At our Family Service, we watched these 2 videos about the Christmas story.

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[I began my sermon at our 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Christmas Eve Services in the following way.]

This Christmas, I’ve found myself reflecting on home, the blessing of home, the pain of leaving home and being homeless, and the challenge of making a new home. I’d like to begin today’s sermon remembering those whose homes have been torn apart by the ongoing unfolding tragedy in Syria – in particular those caught in the violence in Aleppo, and the lives of a 7 year old girl, Bana Alabed, and her family.

Here’s a tweet by Bana the day after her house was destroyed.

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Shortly after this, Bana’s Twitter account went silent.

Bana and her family managed to get out of Syria safely, ending up in Turkey – grateful to be alive, but far from the home they knew and loved.

ghada-2-2Home … How hard it is to leave, even when it’s our choice. How we still  How we struggle with homesickness, even in the best of circumstances! At our November 20 Services, Ghada Al Atrash reminded us of the trauma the refugees from Syria are living with from experiencing such terrible violence that they had to leave their homes to survive. 

Christmas is all about home.

It’s about God in the Person of Jesus leaving his home in heaven to make his home with us, and all of us being home together.

[Later on in the sermon, I said these words.]

I was touched by story about the actions of a group of Syrian refugees in Calgary on Thursday. Here’s a brief video about what they did.

CBC and CTV News articles filled out the story in greater detail:

Members of the Syrian Refugee Support Group Calgary, themselves displaced from their homes in their homeland, gathered on Thursday evening at a downtown park to feed Calgarians in need.

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A special Christmas Dinner was served to Calgary homeless in Celebration Park, a short distance from the Calgary Drop-In Centre. Dozens of homeless Calgarians lined up for a taste of Syria, breaking down barriers with food and some small talk. The idea was about giving back to the city that’s made them feel so welcome and sharing similarities rather than differences, said organizer Rita Khanchet Kallas, who arrived in Calgary nearly a year ago.

“We feel sometimes like we are a big family and the family takes care of each other,” explained Khanchet Kallas of her adopted country. “We want to be a good member of this community and take care of the homeless.”

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As well as dishing out hot meals, the Syrians handed out Christmas gifts and cards with personal messages written inside.

The event was something many in the community of newcomers wanted to be a part of, said Ghada Al Atrash with the Syrian Women’s Club of Calgary, who helped sponsor the event.

“It just needed a call to action and everybody answered that call, very proud to be here and show gratitude to this beautiful country.”

They had found a home, and want to help others do so as well.

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When Jesus is home in our hearts, when we’re at home in his love, we find him moving us to choose to give – to choose to love. We have an open door to our hearts for others. We make room in our hearts for them; and we find that the more we enlarge our hearts to make room for others, the more Our Lord seems to slip in with them. The open door of love enables all of us to be home together.

This is what Christmas is all about: Jesus and his love finding a home in us; we a home in him; and his light shining in and through us helping others find a home, as well.

[I then concluded the sermon with these words.]

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I’d like to end this sermon with the invitation not to leave this Service without knowing that this is your story – that this Good News of great joy for all people includes YOU.

Today, Jesus is asking for the honour of entering each of our hearts – of making his home in us.

We don’t need to worry about what kind of dwelling we offer him. We feel inadequate and unprepared because we ARE! The message isn’t: Jesus comes to those who are ready, who deserve it! The message is: Jesus comes to all of us, unprepared and smelly stable caves as we are, and seeks to make in us a home.

As the Archbishop of Canterbury said in his 2014 Christmas Sermon: “If Jesus can be laid in a manger there is nowhere that is not fitting for him to come, no person who is unfit to receive him.”

And by his Presence, Jesus turns wherever he dwells into a shrine.

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All of us today are invited to say “Yes,” to this request; to respond: “O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee.”

May all of us come home together.

This Christmas Eve, let’s make these words of poet Andrew King our own:

            manger2016aHere is the emptiness of my night
                        may it be filled with your glory
            Here are the silences of my heart
                        may they be filled with your songs

            Here is the watchfulness of my eyes
                        may they be opened to wonder
            Here is the listening of my soul
                        may it hear the joy of your love 

            Here is the hopefulness of my journey
                        may it lead me swift to your side
            Here is the searching of my anxious mind
                        may it find rest in your peace

            Here is the wood and straw of my days
                        may they be a bed for your presence
            And here is the humble cave of my life
                        may it be your home, gentle Saviour. 

 Amen.

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Here’s a 30 min. video of former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams giving on December 8, 2015 a talk entitled “A Good Christmas.” 

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Here are the Prayers of the People we shared at our Family Service.

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Each of our Christmas Eve Services ended with the beloved tradition of singing “Silent Night” by Candlelight.

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We went forth from our Sanctuary, filled with joy and Good News to share with all people! At our first 2 Christmas Eve Services, and our Christmas Day Service, the following pieces were playing on our screens.

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Here, embedded below, are the 7 more traditional pieces of music that played on the screens before our 10:30 Christmas Eve Service. 

And here’s the “Hallelujah Chorus,” played on our screens at the late Service’s conclusion, which joined the angels in their songs of praise.

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