Summary: This sermon speaks of the love that came to us through Christ’s birth.
Advent IV – Love Luke 2: 25-38
“Hush-a-bye, lullaby. Hush your weeping, little baby,” the mother sang. And in her tear-filled eyes one would see the love Mary felt for her baby son, this Child of Love.
Through this Holy Child, God transcended all time and space, planned a way to come and dwell among us, became flesh that we could see and touch. And in a way all of us could understand, God spoke to us of Love.
Kahlil Gibran’s poetry weaves the beautiful story of Almustafa, a young man who lived among the people of Orphalese for twelve years. Almustafa waited for his ship to return to take him back to the isle of his birth. One day, he climbed the hill, looked toward the sea, and saw his ship coming in the mist.
The gates of Almustafa’s heart were flung open, and his joy flew far over the sea. He closed his eyes and prayed in the silences of his soul. But as he descended the hill, a sadness came upon him, and he thought in his heart:
How shall I go in peace and without sorrow? Not without a wound in the spirit shall I leave this city. Long were the days of pain I have spent within its walls, and long the nights of aloneness; and who can depart from his pain and his aloneness without regret? Too many fragments of the spirit have I scattered in these streets . . .
It is not a garment I cast off this day, but a skin that I tear with my own hands.
Yet I cannot tarry longer. The sea that calls all things unto her calls me . . .
Almustafa looked again towards the sea, and saw his ship approaching the harbour, and upon her the mariners, the men of his own land.
His soul cried out to them, and he said: Sons of my ancient mother, riders of the tides, How often have you sailed in my dreams. Now you come in my awakening. . . Ready am I to go.
And as he walked, he saw from afar men and women leaving their fields and their vineyards and hastening toward the city gates. And he heard their voices calling his name, and shouting from field to field telling one another of the coming of his ship.
And he said to himself:
. . . What shall I give unto these who have left their ploughs in midfurrow, or to these who have stopped the wheel of their winepresses? A seeker of silences am I; what treasure have I found in silences that I may dispense with confidence?
When Almustafa entered the city all the people came to meet him, and they were crying out to him as with one voice:.“Go not yet away from us. Much have we loved you.
And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation. Others came and entreated him. But he answered them not. He only bent his head. And those who stood near saw his tears falling upon his breast.
Almustafa and the people proceeded towards the great square before the temple. And there came out of the sanctuary a woman whose name was Almitra. She was a seeress, and he looked upon her with exceeding tenderness, for it was she who had first sought and believed in him when he had been but a day in their city.
And she hailed him, saying: “Prophet of God . . . long have you searched the distances for your ship. Now your ship has come, and you must go. Deep is your longing for the land of your memories. Our love would not bind you nor our needs hold you. Yet this we ask ere you leave us, that you speak to us and give us of your truth. In your aloneness you have watched with our days, and in your wakefulness you have listened to the weeping and the laughter of our sleep. Now therefore disclose us to ourselves and tell us all that has been shown you . . .”
And he answered, “People of Orphalese, of what can I speak?”
Then said Almitra, “Speak to us of Love.”
And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice, he said:
When love beckons to you, follow, though love’s ways are hard and steep . . .
And when love speaks to you, believe, though love’s voice may shatter your dreams. For even as love crowns you, so shall love crucify you. . ."
As I lingered over the poetry in this book, I was struck once again by the image of the aged Simeon holding the infant Christ in his arms and saying to the Mother: “This child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed. . . and a sword will pierce even your own soul.”