Christmas Eve Reflections 2018
One of the wonderful things about the Christmas story is all the beautiful artwork this old, old story inspires. A worship website we use had a link to this short video of a Christmas-inspired sand painting. We’d like to share it with you, and afterwards I want to share a few of the thoughts it inspired for me.
I sometimes think of God as an artist, especially when I am enjoying something beautiful outdoors like a colorful sunset, or autumn leaves that have fallen just so on top on one another, or a perfect dahlia symmetrically broadcasting an outrageous shade of pink into a summer day. I like to think of God as an artist when I look at this stunningly beautiful world.
I like to think of God as an artist who has a hand in creating my life. Suppose our hearts and souls were like the materials our artist God is using to make something beautiful out of our very human lives? Since we’re always changing and growing, this sand art form we just witnessed might be a good way to imagine God trying to make art out of our lives. This is just imagination, mind you–but what if God was drawing lovely pictures on our souls the way the artist in the video was making images with sand on the glass? The images might represent the people God knows we can be, or the directions God hopes we might go.
The three images in the short sand painting make me think of ways God is calling us. The first was Mary and Joseph on their journey. I believe God calls us to be pilgrims, to go on a spiritual journey our whole lives that leads us to new insights, new places, new relationships with folks we never even expected to love. Maybe God is gently drawing us into unexpected journeys this night.
The second image was of an angel, God’s messenger. I believe God calls us to be messengers of hope, peace, joy and love. The more turmoil and fear there is in the world, the greater the need for messengers who counteract hate with love and counteract fear with courage and peace. Maybe God is gently drawing us into being announcers of good news this night.
The third image was of the baby Jesus. To be a Christian is to strive to be a “little Christ.” Our most fundamental calling is to try to be like Jesus even in our own imperfect selves and mixed-up families. I believe God calls us to reflect the kind of love Jesus showed us in his life and even in his death—strong love, courageous love, vulnerable love, forgiving love. Maybe God is gently drawing us into being more like Christ this night.
One of the wonderful aspects of the sand painting is that it hints at how possible it is to change, to start afresh. The Christian scriptures assure us that anyone in Christ can be a new creation at any moment. In this church we like to say, “No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” That goes for the present, and it goes for the past as well. No matter who you have been or where you have been on life’s journey, you are welcome. You are welcome and affirmed as you are and invited to be more than you have been up to this day: more loving, more gracious, more generous, more forgiving. God’s divine hands are hovering over the work of your life, ready to sweep away shame and disappointment, ready to draw a new image of Christ-likeness into heart and soul.
What is God drawing you into this night? May you feel the gentle touch of your Maker and become even more a thing of beauty this night and in the days to come.
Rev. Dee Eisenhauer
Eagle Harbor Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
Bainbridge Island, Washington