Above is the link to this week’s service, which we recorded on Friday afternoon. I am grateful to all the people who worked to bring this together:
Musicians: Larry Anderson, Laurene Csikasz, Sue Timpson-Mannell
Reader: Gilliam Lamoure
Videographer: Stephanie Csikasz
Cameras: Beth Graham, Dennis Graham
Sound: Dennis Graham
Video Control Room: Scott Mannell
Video Editing: Dennis Graham
Below is the transcript of my “Learning Time”.
Learning Time: “Love”
Watch the video “Adjustments” https://youtu.be/EYFnX8fZo30
Stephanie is very talented. Dennis and I have been looking for a way to use her video as part of a worship service ever since her proud mother Laurene shared it with us.
I emailed Stephanie to ask her permission, and noticed that her email includes the words “Lil Chick”, which of course made me think of the first video we watched this morning. Love is like a little chick hatching from an egg, and needing to be cared for in the nest.
Stephanie is like a lot of grown birds, that went off to university and college, never imagining the year we have had, and not expecting to be back in their parent’s nest.
We have a couple of those birds at home these days. Lexie and I are happy to have them, and it’s not what any of us had expected.
So, like Stephanie’s movie reminds us, we make adjustments.
I don’t know if it always went smoothly at Stephanie’s house, or whether some birds got their feathers ruffled in the process.
I know at my house there have been days, and evenings, when we wished the nest was a little bigger, or maybe had soundproofed rooms. The younger birds stay up later than the old ones.
But we make it work. We make adjustments, because we love each other. We put up with stuff. We get over things.
There is a lot of that happening these days, for most of us. Life is not going the way we imagined. Things we have been looking forward to have been put on hold, or cancelled.
It tests our patience, challenges our ability to shrug things off. It makes people sad, and sometimes cranky.
Turn on the news, or look at the computer for a while, and you see and hear a lot of complaining, second-guessing, blaming, back-seat driving going on.
It’s easy to be loving, and generous, and friendly, and patient, and kind, when things are going our way. When there is trouble, or even just inconvenience, and disappointment, we have to dig a little deeper, for the capacity to cut each other some slack, to be respectful, to remember that everyone has sadness, and suffering, and trouble in their lives.
I take great comfort, and hope, and inspiration from imagining Jesus being born, and wrapped in cloths, and layed in a manger. Maybe the manger was padded with hay. Maybe it looked a bit like a nest.
He came into the world under less than ideal conditions. The world was kind of a mess. A corrupt local government, manipulated by the Roman Empire, was making life hard for the poor people. There was a privileged ruling class who did very well, and a lot of peasants left scratching away, like chickens in dirt, trying to make a living. There were wars, and racism, and crime, and violence, and diseases we have never heard of. Life was hard for most people.
Jesus was born a vulnerable little chick, placed in a makeshift nest, and in need of love and care.
I remember when each of our children , our little chicks were born. They were born under much better conditions than Joseph and Mary could provide. All the same, at each birth I felt a mix of gratitude and fear, excitement and anxiety, at the gift, and responsibility of caring for a new life. Their vulnerability worked its influence on me.
Each time, I prayed, God help us. God help me.
I think the vulnerability of those we love, and the inadequacy we may feel, to protect and care for them, is a deep, visceral prayer, that connects us, by love, to the source of all love.
God is love. Jesus is born, and God enters the world in a way that reaches us, not just through our minds, but through our deeper selves- our hearts, our guts.
Babies, and little chicks, are messy and noisy and wonderful, and need a lot of help, especially in the beginning.
You often hear that new babies don’t come with an instruction manual. You can get a lot of books, and find lots of advice online, but that’s not how all the learning comes.
Each child is a teacher. We learn how to care for them, as we discover who they are. The relationship changes us, as the love grows.
We often hear it said that God was born into the world at the first Christmas, or that love was born that day. That’s kind of true, but also confusing, because God was already in the world, and love was already in the world. There were lots of babies, lots of baby chicks born before Jesus came along.
I think what we can see in the story of Jesus’ birth is a profound lesson not so much about when love was born, but how it is born into the world over and over again, each time we are confronted with the vulnerability, the preciousness, the neediness, of another life. That’s how love reaches us, and does it amazing, miraculous work within us. Amen