On the First Sunday of Christmas the theme of the Children’s/ Intergenerational Service was, “What are Swaddling Clothes Anyway?” The kids were invited to bring their favorite blanket or animal, that they sleep with, to share. White flour sack dish towels were handed out and kids were encouraged to “Swaddle” them with the dish towels… You see Swaddling Bands or Clothes, were used to wrap newborns (pretty tightly) as a reminder of the comfort of the womb... That confining space of warmth and safety that the child experienced in utero.
We shared that now oft-repeated story of the little girl who wakes up in the middle of the night and runs to her parents bedroom, terrified by a night-mare. She pops into bed, snuggling down between them, and her somewhat groggy father asks, “What’s wrong sweetheart?” “I had a bad dream,” she whim-pers. “Don’t be afraid sweetie,” he replies, “You know that God is always with you to protect you…” “I know daddy,” she replies, “But, I needed God with skin on.”
In large part this is exactly what we celebrate at Christmas, God, “with skin on.” And, the stuffed animals (or blankets… or spouses...) we sleep with are often tangible reminders of just that… Sacraments, so to speak, of the Holy, right there with us! They “Swaddle” us… wrap us ‘round with a sense of nurture, care and protection when we enter the vulnerable time of sleep. That’s why prayers at bedtime can be so effective, they add another layer to that same sense of presence… for ourselves, and surrounding others.
Now, as we transition through the cycle of seasons emphasizing the Incarnation of God through the birth of Jesus, the theme of Light begins the final season of Epiphany… The Star that Leads the Wise men to the place of Jesus birth; then other miraculous portents of the manifestation of God in the person of Jesus: the Baptism of Jesus; The changing of water into wine at a wedding feast… let us re-mind ourselves that the “Holy” does not belong to us alone, but is meant to be embraced and shared selflessly!
A blessed Epiphany to all, Fr. Matt
“It is not ourselves that we proclaim; we proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants, for Jesus' sake. For the same God who said, ‘Out of darkness let light shine,’ has caused his light to shine within us, to give the light of revelation--the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:5-6