At the beginning of this festival, we heard about cold winter, iron earth, ice, snow on snow on snow. One of the best pains of life is the pain of your limbs warming at home. You might remember that feeling if you grew up in a place that gets cold in the winter, if you ever went outside to play in the snow and then came back in, unable to feel your feet, and then winced as they pinged back to life. Maybe you took a warm bath and you snuggled up in some pajamas and your mother brought you hot chocolate while you sat on the couch and felt the crinkle of your flesh warming. Maybe some of you even know what it was like to be without a warm place, to wonder if your cold feet ever could get warm again. We began also with the reading of the Fall, the story of the cold entering the hearts of men and women, the story of a man and a woman taking their hearts from God.
You'll hear in our singing our desire to give God our heart. I think sometimes it is disingenuous--perhaps because it sounds so easy, and because it is so easy to say. But any lover knows that the heart isn't enough. We need with it the body, the intellect. The heart by itself cannot do the dishes.
Perhaps we say this so easily because we do not know what the value of our hearts is, or because they are empty, and possibly we think they are worthless. We give them over hoping that they will be filled, or perhaps because we do not believe in the heartfelt things of life, accustomed as we are to irony and distance. What can I give him but my heart, or a carol? But these are the words of the poor, the desperate people who are in the cold, who shiver in snow on snow. Maybe you are one of them. Maybe you, like the Holy Family, number among the afraid, the fleeing, the rejected. Maybe your feet are also tired and cold. Maybe all you have for hope is to give your heart to the king who is like you--weak, mortal. For those of us in despair and in darkness, Christ receives our broken hearts so he can shine in them, to light them up like a lamp's flame, to warm us and give us light.
For the rest of us, when we give our hearts over to Jesus, we will find that we do not give him a chit. For Christ will break them open, and when we examine the pieces we will find that inside them are the cold feet of the poor, the tired feet of the refugee, dirty feet of all kinds. And then, we will wish to open our hands to all of them. Amen.
The Reverend John Flack