Christmas Day 2014

Preaching Christmas Day 2014
Maybe this is a good place to start, today, Christmas Day,
with a reading from an American novel about immigration:
Giants in the Earth. 
Its about Norwegian settlers in the late 1800s who knew the North Atlantic seas and fishing life –But left them for a new land in America.
They hoped to live well, busting sod to farm in the mid-west Plains which were thought beguiling, thought profit making.
But the settlers found that the Plains seemed their own entity, and  had a way of trying to define, not just life, but existence.
Not just existence, but life.  
It is a story with a short section that reminds, especially on Christmas Day
of the Gospel of our Lord… God’s son,
born in a stable              with no other home
placed in a manger    with no place else to be
born into our own lives, where we too often feel dread
placed into our very lives, his choice to be.
Hear then, this short portion of the novel Giants in the Earth:
>              An endless plain...endless, beginningless...
>              a grey empty silence...a boundless cold..
>              Snow fell; snow flew; a universe of nothing but dead whiteness.
>              Blizzards from out of the northwest raged,
>              swooped down and stirred up greyish-white fury,
>              impenetrable to human eyes.
>              As soon as these monsters {these blizzards from the northwest} tired,
>              storms from the northeast were sure to come,
>              bringing more snow...
>              “The Lord have mercy!  This is awful!” said the folk,
                    for lack of anything else to say.
                {The Lord have mercy! This is awful!” said the folk},
>               “Monsterlike the Plains lay there—sucked in her breath one week,
>               and the next week
>               blew it out again.
>               {Monsterlike} Man she scorned;
                          his works she would not brook, {not tolerate..}
>               The Plains would know, when the time came,
>               how to guard herself    and her own against him!
>                    {against this tiny newcomer of human folk}
>               But there was something The Plains did not know.
>               Had it not been for the tiny newcomer,
>               who by mysterious paths had found his way
>               into the settlement on Christmas morning,
>               the monster might have had her way;
>               but the newcomer made a breach in her plans—a vital breach.

>               Most marvellous it was,...
>               a thing so pitifully small and birdlike...
>               There was no substance to him, really nothing.
>               Only a bit of tender flesh wrapped in bits of silk...
>               But life dwelt in every {pitifully small} fibre of it.
>               Yet hardly life—rather the promise of it.
>                so fine and delicate that one was afraid to touch it
>                with rude {working} hands}.
>              Ah, that newcomer!...
>               Had the Prairie been possessed of the commonest hobgoblin sense,
>               she would have guarded herself,
>               first of all,
>               against him.
>               But this wisdom the Prairie had not.
>               glorying in her great might, (her great might)
>               depending on the witchcraft     that had never failed her,  
                  she lay there unconcerned.
>               And powerful though she was,
>               the newcomer {born on Christmas morn}
                  minded her—the Prairie
                   no more than she did him.
>               Weak and insignificant,
>               he yet bore within him the talisman {the mark and the way},
>               to set her direst power
                 at loss.
>               For the child beguiled
                 the heavy hearted folks,    
                 Who lived admist the Prairie dark
>               into laughing,
>               and what can avail against folks who laugh---
>               who dare to laugh
>               in the face of a winter like this one?...
>               That winter it was *he* (child, born on Christmas morn)
                  who saved people from insanity and
>                the grave.”
In that year, in this year
that lifetime, and this
that earth time and this    
that universe time and this
Our Lord,
Jesus by name, Son of God by title,
Is the one
 Who saves from aloneness and death
From forces of devil and the grave     
From Prairie and forest forsakenness, and the weather in it all.
Our Lord is the one
Who is the light
that shatters all darkness Of living, of life; of prairie of storm; of seas and of boats.
Christ is the light
That gives us new sight to see infants,
and to face terrors
And know there is Light that no darkness overcomes.
We give thanks to God.

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