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.