Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Eat, Pray, Love- some reflections for Christmas

There are many readings for the services of Christmas have a look for example at Isaiah 9:2-7, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2.
Also Matthew 1, and John 1 give us the perspective of the other evangelists
One of the popular books doing the rounds is Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray,Love"
It is the story of how a woman attempts to put her life back together after a particularly messy relationship breakdown
And she identifies these three components
Eat, Pray, and Love
as key components of the healing
she was able to gain.
It strikes me that this is also something we can think about as we approach Christmas
Because it is a time when we are drawn
To eat, to pray and to love.
These are part of the fundamental invitations to life
that Christmas seems to be about.
Thrown back on her own resources, Gilbert discovers
that it is in sharing time with other people
over food
that she is able to regain the balance of her life.
Most of us will spend a special time today eating with family and friends.
But we have come to live in a world
that seems to have forgotten that this is not just a convenience
it is a necessity.
To take time to eat together
is an important, restorative and human thing to do.
It is no surprise that as we come to worship
we are reminded of Jesus's eating with us his disciples.
We not only satisfy our bodies but we encounter God
and are fed spiritually.

Gilbert also realises that there is a need to take time
to attend to the spirit
to be with God
for her she uses the word "pray"
as a sort of shorthand.
What she is getting at is that each of us needs to attend to
the Spirit of God within us.
To take time each day to be in touch with God.
Some of us find this easy
some of us find this hard or foreign.
Gilbert's advice is good advice...
...I am not sure about this but if I have a need
then let me just put it out there before God...
I have faith enough to know that this sort of process works
not because we pray
but because God is faithful.
As we come to Church today
for a whole range of reasons
can I invite you to "put it out there before God"
As the shepherds come to the stable
they do not really know what is going to happen
the wise men think they know
but they don't fully understand
what we all encounter as we come to God
is that we are moved on
Deepened, changed.

What we, like Gilbert, go on to discover
is that if we pay attention to the ordinary stuff of life
(like eating)
if we put it out there before God
(called praying)
then the transformation come through the third possibility
which is Love.
That in the ordinary we find we can love and are loved.
It is what parents, like Joseph and Mary, very quickly discover
they can love their children in a way they never imagined.
We discover that we are capable of taking risks
and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable
and rather than avoiding each other
by fast food with no possibility of human encounter;
or by paying no attention to our inner life
through prayer and drawing close to God.
That if we allow ourselves to challenge those shallownesses
we discover a new depth and meaning of life
called LOVE.

This Christian sacrament, a simple meal
reminds us that
Christ's broken body is shared
not sadistically
but so that we might also be encouraged to break ourselves open
to Eat together and share our lives,
to "put it out there" before God
and allow the possibility of a deeper spirit
through prayer
or however we name it.
And at Christmas to name the possibility of love.
Love which will enliven, strengthen and change us.
May we all eat well, pray well, and love well
this and every day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good stuff Stephen