This sermon owes much to the work of Richard Rohr whose work opens me to the LOVE who lies at the core of REALITY, the ONE we call God. The source of the story that I tell about a Christmas Eve way back when has been lost to me. I cannot remember when I first heard it. It’s power to open me to the LOVE that is God remains with me and so I treasure the story and tell it so as to open others. To open ourselves to the cosmic nature of the Christ we used different scripture readings. The readings can be found here During the sermon copious amounts of chocolate oranges were smashed open and distributed. You can listen to the sermon here
Christmas Eve is a night when the phrase “way back when” is uttered by storytellers often. I remember way back when I was just a little girl, you know long, long, ago, way back when Christmas celebrations were so different. Way back when I was a child, we didn’t hang fancy, especially dedicated stockings on the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. No, way back when, people didn’t have the money to waste on special, fancy, Christmas stockings that were only used once a year. Way back when, we just went into our sock draw and pulled out the largest sock we could find and we’d hang it up, in the hope that if we’d been good we’d get some goodies instead of the dreaded lump of coal that our parents had been threatening us with for weeks. Come Christmas morning, way back when, we were happy when our sock was filled not with stocking-stuffers like we have these days, but with the same thing we got every Christmas in our stockings, an apple, an orange, a few toffee’s and a couple of coins. You see way back when, fruit was seasonal and fresh apples and oranges were a real treat. These days we can haul crates of tiny delectable oranges from the grocery store all year long. But way back when, oranges at Christmas were a real treat.
Now I never did like oranges very much, so I would always try to trade my orange with my brother so that I could have two apples instead. You see way back when children were easier to please and Christmas was different. Which leads me to another story. I don’t remember when or where I first heard this story about way back when World War II had just ended and refugees were loaded into camps until the world could figure out what to do with the millions of displaced people. Back then; refugee camps were filled to overflowing with children who’d lost their families during the war. Apparently there was this little boy in a camp in France; we’ll call him Andre. Andre couldn’t have been more than about seven years old and he could barely remember the family he lost almost three years before the war ended. He’d been living in the refugee camp, more of an orphanage really, for almost a year. A few nuns who never could scrap together enough money to feed the children properly ran the camp. But they did there best and the children were, after all was said and done, lucky to be alive. The children hardly noticed that Christmas was approaching until one of the nuns announced that a neighbour had promised to come by on Christmas Eve to drop off a sack of oranges. Andre had only a vague memory of an orange. The year before a stranger had shared an orange with him and he remembered the taste of the three tiny sections of his share of the orange that oozed precious juice down his half starved throat. Andre spent the days leading up to Christmas Eve dreaming of having a whole orange of his very own. He thought about the smell of the orange, dreamed of peeling the orange, and carefully considered whether or not to devour each and every section of the orange all at once or whether he should divided it and save a section or two for Christmas morning. Continue reading