Sermon for Midnight Eucharist
Deep Memory . . .
In the beginning . . . do you remember?
Christmas for all of us is a thing of memory. When we hear the word ‘Christmas’, our responses, our thoughts, our imaginings, our rituals – summon up a whole world of meaning for ourselves. There is a density to our memories that make tangible the intangible.
Perhaps our Christmases are an attempt to recreate something. Or perhaps we seek to turn things round and ‘do Christmas differently this year’ – which ever way – Christmas is a product of memory, that which was before. And it should not surprise us that this is so – for this is the nature of our existence – our hearts, minds and bodies, repositories of memories – of lives learned and lived – but not just of our lives, of the lives of others, many of whom we never knew, from the beginning . . .
In the beginning . . . do you remember?
Where did we come from to be here . . . tonight? Our congregation here, like the population of New Zealand is a gathering together of people from many places – many stories, many beginnings. Those born here, and those from further afield, indeed from around the whole world. But before that? Where have we come from? ‘Oh well’ one might say, ‘my folks came out on one of the first boats . . . from Scotland, where they were farmers . . . and before that?? We are all from somewhere – places ultimately long forgotten.
As we look deep into the eyes of a newborn child – returning its gaze we look deep back through all the generations ‘Oh! doesn’t she look like your grandmother!!’, and back beyond . . . countless generations upon generations written into a smile, a frown, even the slightest turn of a head . . . memory coming to life in Flesh and blood . . . We are a Deep Memory
How many Christmases make up ‘Our Christmas’? How many memories? How many people would tell us something of who we are? Those Christmases past, those generations long long forgotten . . . they are all here – we are in a very real sense a very deep and dense memory . . . but of what?
In the beginning . . . was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing that came into being without Him . . . He was in the world, and the world came into being through Him, yet the world did not know Him . . . the world did not See, the world did not recognise Him, her beginning – the world had lost its memory, forgotten who she was . . .
At the heart of this Holy Night, we come together – not only as people gathering together but each of us piecing together a deeper truth about who we are – sharing in an act of deep re-membering – deep memory . . .
Memories of untold generations past embodied in hands and lips, in gait, in posture in prayer, in words and thought . . . the beginning is here, in our midst . . . He came to those who were his own . . . the beginning is always present . . . and perhaps, by the infinite Grace and mercy of God, Recognition, Remembering in the eyes of This Child – The Word made Flesh – Jesus Christ – The Alpha and the Omega – The Beginning and the End – Our End and Our Beginning . . .
For to all who received Him, who believed in Him, who in recognising Him rejoiced at His presence – to all of those, He gave power to become that which in truth we are – to remember our selves . . . in that Recognition which we call Faith the door of memory opens that we might become Children of God . . . to See the Light, to Walk in the Light . . . What has come into Existence in Him is Light – the dawning Light of Deep recognition and Memory – His Life – the Light of all people . . .
In this Holy Night – the Word of God – the Source, the Beginning of all things takes on our Flesh and stands before us, that we might behold His Glory, as of a Father’s only Son – full of Grace and truth – and in that Seeing we might Know our Beginning, and our End – and in that Act of remembering walk in His Light and Life all our days