love in diversity

Today’s Christmas reflection is below both in written and video form. Take your pick. 

One of the many parts of Christmas that I look forward to is the food and drink with friends and family.

There are many things that I could and probably should say in this brief Christmas reflection, but every time I think of something else I keep coming back to one theme prompted by many people who comment that they will be spending Christmas with family and friends in a gathering of a great diversity of people, perspectives and opinions: a real mixed and complex company.

Life is not simple, and our families, friendships and relationships are usually not straightforward or by-the-book.

Whereas a few years ago those around our Christmas dinner table might have thought in similar ways, now the diversity is evident in all kinds of ways, diversity of thought about what Christmas means and different perspectives about relationships and ways of living in love.

So how are we to live more fully and intimately in relationship with Christ?

At Christmas, in the midst of all the diversity, instead of wondering whether diverse opinions and practices are right or wrong or is this or that expression of love appropriate, there needs to be another question, a more important question: not who is in, who is out, who is right or who is wrong, but a more primary question: Is there love?

I am not saying that the other questions about good and bad or right and wrong are unimportant,  but the primary question is about love. and love is the heart of the Christmas feast, the heart of life. Love does not mean “anything goes”. There are some things that love is and other things that love is not.

As people of good-will who are striving to live in love with our diversity of family and friends who are also seeking to live love, let’s give God thanks that the reason that God in Jesus became human is that we might have love, that we might have love in the tangible and real form of Christ with us present among us and experienced in our complex relationships with friends and family.

Today as we celebrate the great feast of love, let’s give God thanks for all of the ways in which we see and experience love in our families, our friendships and in our world.

 

Grace at Christmas Dinner

Even with the great mix of family and friends of all faiths and none gathered at one table for Christmas Dinner,  there is still a sense that a dignified moment is appropriate to begin the meal. In the past praying a well-known grace may have been an option, but these days it is a bit more complex.

I offer this grace below as a way to begin your Christmas meal this year. Click on the image below to download a printable version.

A Grace before Christmas Dinner

One of the more senior people
at the dinner begins saying:

Before we share this Christmas meal together,
Let us take a moment of silent prayer
to give God thanks
for all the blessings we have received this year.

A moment of silent reflection follows
Then the leader continues

Let us remember those
we have shared Christmas with in past years,
those who have died,
and also those who are not able to be with us today
because of distance and illness.
Let us now share aloud
the names of those we especially wish to remember.

Those at table take a moment
to share the names of those
they wish to remember.

When the names have been shared
a candle is lit in the centre of the table
(perhaps by one of the children).
Then the leader prays

May the light of this candle
lead us to Christ
who overcomes every darkness.
And for what we receive in this meal,
the food, drink, and family and friendship,
let us be deeply grateful.
Amen

17 Responses to "love in diversity"
  1. Happy Christmas John, I have enjoyed your daily reflections and wonder if we will still be receiving them leading up to Easter? God’s blessings on the next step of your life. I still recall the interesting times you had while at St. Joseph’s. God Bless.

  2. Thank you so much, Fr John for this beautiful reflection for Christmas. Thankyou also for this Advent journey with you. May the Christ Child bless you abundantly and protect you always. You are in my prayers as you prepare for your new work up here in Auckland.
    Merry Christmas!

  3. Thank you John for these daily Advent reflections which I have really appreciated.
    Wishing you the blessings and love of Christmas and all the best for 2020.

  4. Happy blessed Christmas Fr John and all the companions on the advent reflection.✨⭐️.
    Thank you for again gently inviting us to reflect on Love over the celebration of Christmas ⭐️an invitation for personal reflection on the ongoing journey – is there love in all the deeds and the celebration ??

  5. We are staying in a house that is on the flight path into Sydney airport – every 5 to 10 minutes a large plane is above us wheels down in the final stages of its landing trajectory – thinking of Johns diversity theme each plane will have 100s of stories of people from all over the world and all parts of Australia each with its own Imperative for the journey. Early this morning seeking ice and fresh bread we came across many people from different lands. May God have mercy of on all us. God bless John

  6. What a truly lovely reflection for Christmas morning. I have read it more than once because it is so beautiful. And I have printed the lovely grace for our Christmas meal at my daughters. I have also forwarded it to my other adult children. Thank you Father for your truly reflective reflection.

  7. AN IRISH BLESSING FOR YOU FATHER JOHN,
    AND MY ADDITIONAL COMPANIONS IN FAITH THIS ADVENT

    “May you blessed with the Spirit of the season,
    Which is Peace,
    The Gladness of the season,
    Which is Hope
    And the Heart of the season,
    Which is Love”.

    With Gratitude for renewal and new-beginnings this Christmas Time. +
    Virginia

  8. Happy Christmas John, and also to all your readers! We certainly had diversity last night for Swedish Christmas among a family of Chinese, English and Italian Australians from St Thomas and elsewhere! The Grace was lovely. Candle lit by an atheist! Warm thanks to you for this lovely series.

  9. Thank you Fr John for your Advent posts and those who journeyed with me over the Advent season. I liked the ‘invitation’ parts of the posts, which actually prompted me to action a few times. I also could relate to a lot of the comments which was an added bonus. This advent I was really struck by the faith of Mary.
    Peace, love and good-will to you all as we celebrate the joy of Christmas – God with us!

  10. I hope your day has been a very happy one John. Thank you for your Advent reflections …they have meant a lot to me. We said your grace and the family shared in it fully and appreciated it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.