From a sermon by Father David Kirk (1935-2007) - Founder of Emmaus Harlem
"Christmas is our feast. The time we remember Jesus, born homeless in a shelter in Bethlehem. The time of hope, of the birth of hope...the time we try once again to open our hearts, our lives, and let God be born in us. It's interesting: the Gospels begin with the Christmas story, the birth of Jesus, the power of God in a powerless little child, and ends the story with Emmaus: Jesus, on the road, incognito, a stranger, among his disciples.
What both stories tell us is that God inserted Himself into this tired struggle of humanity, among men and women struggling with the power of evil and despair. It is among us struggling people who form a story which God wants us to become a part of; and into this struggle God inserts Himself in Christ Jesus, becoming a brother, a fellow traveler with us. He walks with us. He joins us in our struggle, our hurts, our disappointments, listens to our stories and helps us realize that we are not walking in circles; we are not suffering without meaning; we are not alone in journey; that the God of love who gives us life is now with us - within us - at all times and in all places; so we never need feel lost, we can always trust that God walks with us.
Jesus listens to our stories and gives us hope; but so many of us...hide part of the story, cling to our aloneness; and when we do that we are not allowing God to touch us when we are lost in pain; we hide from one another those places deepest inside ourselves, where we are most in pain, where we are most confused, guilty, hurt. So Christmas is the time to commit ourselves to open up to one another and to God, and to allow God and divinity and hope and new life to be born in us.
It is night now and, in many ways, in America it is night. It is darkness. It was in the night when the angel told Mary that the Messiah, the Savior, would be born to her, a virgin - an impossible thing - and in the night when she gave birth in the shelter of a cave. How do we get out of this night, out of this darkness?
So tonight is the night to reach out and, in God, let love for each other be born; to think of any person among us we have judged, not accepted, even rejected, and build communion as a brother or sister.
When everything is dark, when we are surrounded by despairing forces, when we do not see exits from our troubles, then we can find peace and salvation in the remembered love of Jesus Christ, which is love made vulnerable through suffering, and teaches us that truth springs from patience, and patience from suffering."
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