love in diversity

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

This year while we in Aotearoa New Zealand are able to gather we are aware that many friends and family in other parts of the world are not so fortunate. Our prayer unites us with them and they with us. May they know the presence of Christ for whom lockdown is no barrier.

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.


Thanks to the reader who yesterday sent in this image with the caption: A “vision” whilst in a queue of journeying parishioners waiting to turn into the church.

11 Responses to "love in diversity"
  1. Meri Kirihimete Fr John,
    The lighting of a candle at grace before our meals today will remind me of the love Christ has for all of us……light = love = Christ.

  2. Thank you Fr John I have really enjoyed your daily reflections through Advent. It has given me food for thought to be a better me. Yes we too shall light our candle at Grace today.

    Wishing you & your family a Merry Christmas. May you be blessed with the gifts peace love & joy everyday.

    Thank you again

  3. Yes indeed, blessed Christmas to each and all.
    Have really appreciated your sharing John and the time gone into them
    I hope I always remember the saying of one kaumatua “nā te Aroha”
    “Make sure everything comes out of Love”

  4. Thank you Fr John. The journey through Advent this year with your reflections has been very special amidst the stresses of daily commitments.
    I wish you a very blessed Christmas, rest, joy, and peace with baby Jesus.

  5. Thank you Father John,we give thanks for and pray especially for our young families,that they be healed and inspired to grow together by the amazing love of our Jesus.

  6. This reflection hit the nail on the head for m. I have been wondering about how to approach our daughter’s partner who just walked out and left her and their boys two months ago. I have imagined many different cenarious however deep down I know what Jesus would do and love will prevail. Thank you for your daily reflections which have helped keep me focused on the Main Event. We went to Cribs on Kapiti, it was a beautiful reflection on Christmas

  7. Agree all, its been such a blessed way to start each day, for me just to be aware for a brief time to feel Gods love for me before the stress of the day seems to make its own demands.
    God bless you Fr John and all who read this and comment I feel we are all part of a family held together by the love of God in our hearts.

  8. Merry Christmas to Father John and to all Food for Faith members ❣️
    First time in my life I prayed today before a meal, as a family! Thank you Fr John for sharing the Grace before Christmas Dinner!
    God has given me the Grace to take initiative to light the candle and say the prayer. I am pretty much sure that my children and husband were startled by this unexpected gesture before dinner:). But I know this Christmas Dinner which we had, will remain in their hearts forever. After a very long time my family members had dinner TOGETHER at the dining table and that too devoid of any devices. I am so grateful and happy!
    God bless you all!
    Wish you all the hope, peace, joy and love of our Lord Jesus Christ!

  9. John, we here in Perth thank you for your splendid reflections and hope that you had a peaceful and joyful Christmas. Nick and Jess

    The gift of HIS love,
    May we unwrap our hearts,
    To receive and pass on, that
    GifT to all,no matter
    Their circumstances, they may keep the gift- or just the wrapping,or ribbon,
    Or name tag, at least it will be a memory seed planted,
    to ponder about,on
    Lifes journey.
    Thankyou,Fr John,
    God Bless,all your works

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