Summary: A recipe for a Christmas Cake and all that the ingredients mean.
The Christmas Cake.
This sermon has been altered from a responsive sermon that was originally preached at the Anglican Parish of Halswell, Prebbleton, Canterbury and purloined by Mrs Heather Hodgkinson who preached a slightly altered version at The Sydenham Corps of the Salvation Army, Christchurch. I have filched it and paraphrased it for use on Christmas day 2014.
There’s something quite wonderful about Christmas Day, other than the presents and coming to the service here. Getting together with family is a great thing but something I really like about Christmas day is the food that is quite special. We get to enjoy those rare things that you only eat once a year. There comes with the food this festive air of wonder, our senses of sight, smell, and taste are engaged in ways that just don’t occur at other times of the year. Our minds carry these powerful images on into the New Year, the tastes and smells, the light reflected off the decorated table all speaks volumes of happiness.
Today I want to bring this picture to you of a Christmas Cake a construction of wondrous taste and smell, of ingredients sourced from many different places that build into a whole. These many things provided by God, components that singularly are useful but as they come together develop into something splendid. A cake that reminds us to thank God individually and together as a people.
The first ingredients are butter and sugar, that creamed together remind us of the Psalmists words: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 109:103) How are our characters in relation to these ingredients, are we sweet enough or could we do with some real sweetening? Our prayer at this time could be, “Lord may our lives and could my life show a sweet character.” This prayer will be answered as we seek to live out lives of love, caring, kindness and sharing.
The next components of the cake are eggs; now these wee beasties are more often associated with Easter than with Christmas, for eggs are a symbol of Jesus resurrection, of new life breaking forth from the tomb. They are a reminder to those of us with faith in Jesus that death is not the end and that Christ brings light and hope in the midst of darkness and despair.
So we crack these eggs and add them to the cake and recall the words of Isaiah, “Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear.” (Isaiah 58:9).
Our prayer at this time could be that our lives reveal the Risen Christ, as we seek to follow his new and perfect way, offering ourselves in service.
Then we add to this mixture flour and fruit juice, these things were as familiar to the people of Jesus day as they are to us. The flour reminds us of the Lord ’s Prayer in which Jesus taught us to ask that our daily food be provided by The Father. At this time of plenty let us remember those without who we can help, those who are without and lets be challenged to meet their needs. We are also are also reminded that Jesus is the “Bread of Life”. That as we feed on him, his words, his way of living and as we endeavour to be more like him we find ourselves nourished in and through him.
This Juice along with the flour we can see as a symbol of the last supper, as we share in meals together as we commune with one another, as we give sacrificially let us remember the sacrifice of Christ.
The spices and essences with their different tastes and flavours, these things remind us of the variety of people who make up our congregation and the community of the city of Dunedin. Our prayer at this time cab be “Lord we thank you, that we each are unique and that together we add to this body of yours the Church, let us be a blessing to those around us that you may be revealed.”
The next ingredients are fruits and nuts. Now these were common foods in biblical times, these are dried foods, these remind us that while we may go through desert times when God may seem remote, he never is. But that sometimes like the nuts we may have hardened ourselves to his reaching out to us, or that there may be something we are required to sort out with someone or God. Then the fruits of the Holy Spirit can then be seen in our lives. The fact is that our hearts can become hard and we may not be living in or even attempting to live in harmony with others.
As we mix all these ingredients together let us remember that no matter how small a part these play, that they all add to the overall taste and texture of the cake. In the same way how we respond to God how we interact with our fellow travellers will all make a difference for the good if that is our intention. As we respond to God the Father and are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit may we be seen making a difference, the biggest difference we can with our lives.