Friday, 25 December 2015

A Homily for Christmas - the Prairie Chicken and the Eagle

A Native American warrior was rushing through the forest. He saw a fallen egg on the grass and placed it in the first nest he came across. He had placed an eagle's egg in a prairie hen's nest. One day when the hatched chickens were busy doing what a prairie-bird family does best - hopping, pecking, squawking - a magnificent eagle swooped across the sky. The young eagle was filled with a sudden, aching longing.

Immediately reprimanded by the mother hen for time-wasting and day-dreaming, the growing eagle-in-disguise dutifully continued to scratch the dry earth. But, the story goes, no matter what suspicion, ridicule or indoctrination the prairie chicken continued to endure from that day on, she could never forget that moment when her heart in hiding stirred for another life.

As we stand around the crib something stirs inside us too. We look at the baby and sense an echo of heaven in ourselves.

We look at the baby who will soon enjoy and endure the delights and dangers of being truly human, who will grow up and later suffer in a darkness from which a great light will shine.

We kneel near the baby and an awareness of our own undreamt-of destiny awakens in us. We sense a beckoning horizon as yet invisible and uncertain. We are like people trying to remember the dream from which we have just awoken.

"Peace on earth," we sing, but a strange disturbance bothers our hearts. "All is calm, all is bright," we faithfully carol, while a restlessness continues to grow within us.

It is sometimes said that Christmas is for children.  
Yes, that’s true of course.
Yet Christmas is for all people of all ages, whether of faith or not.
When we say it's for children what I think we mean is that it somehow sounds an echo from our own childhood, from a time of hope-ful innocence.
A time before we forget from where we came, before we became wise in our own eyes and considered such things childish.

Most of us are like the prairie chicken in our story.

We are haunted by the sense that we are something more yet continue to keep busy with what we do best - the human equivalent of hopping, pecking and squawking.

Christmas, at its best -
and I’m not talking about the partying or the shopping -
Christmas, at its best -
stirs a memory of a dream,
from which we woke long ago.

A dream which gave us a vision of how we might fly on eagles wings.

Our gospel reading was from St John. The symbol for St John is the eagle.

Matthew and Luke focus our eyes on the earthly Christ child in the crib. John lifts our eyes to what is going on in the heavenly sphere. Jesus inhabits both worlds. As the Orthodox Christian reminds us - Christ became human so that humanity might become divine.

No comments:

Post a Comment