Sunday, December 18, 2011

Squeaky Souls

Luke 2: 1-20
Sitting in the pews of St. Catherine’s Parish at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is not quite the spiritual experience that you might expect.  The ebb and flow of pilgrim groups bring a hushed awe into the sanctuary.  They come from all over the world, to worship the newborn King and see the place, where tradition says, Christ was born.  Cameras flash as they look upon the stained glass rose window of the Holy Family.  They endeavor to record this beautiful work of art and moment for the years to come after they have returned home. Who can blame them?  It is a beautiful church and there is something magnificent about being in Bethlehem.
As one group of pilgrims exit there is just a split second of silence.  I try and have a moment of meaningful reflection but that’s just not going to happen.  Squeak, squuuueak, squeak, sq, sq, squeak! The silence is broken by the squeaking of sneaker soles shuffling on the stone floor.  Another group has entered the sanctuary where the acoustics are extraordinary.  And then they too stop to admire the window.  Some of them light a candle for peace and some stand there with their eyes wide open simply looking up.  
As I sat in the Church in Bethlehem I gave it a new name in my mind.  Rather than St. Catherine’s, a more apropos name is the “Church of the Squeaky Soles”.  Every person that walks into the church without even realizing it leaves his or her individual squeaky sole (S_O_L_E) sound in the great sanctuary, a symphonic offering given faithfully to the Holy Family.  So too, we leave our squeaky ‘soul’ (S_O_U_L) mark upon that tiny Savior.  If ever there was something that would keep the baby Jesus awake it would be all those squeaky sneaker soles and our heart souls.  Forget the lowing cattle or the angels flying high above singing glory in the highest.  It is our souls. 
Our squeaky souls are exactly what Jesus was born to hear.  Me and you, each one of us squeaks loudly out of the circumstances of our lives and we are saved with each sound that we make, each cry that we let out, every lonely night that we spend, or each jump that we take in the name of joy.  This is what our Saviour was born to hear, to listen to, to understand, to heal… – our squeaky souls.  We are squeaky, we fear, we doubt, we bargain, we are human and this he understands completely.
Hear now the story of that Savior’s birth as recorded by Luke:
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Isn’t it good that in the holiest of places, in the quietest and darkest of night of the soul we can show up in our noisy sneakers and find acceptance, love and grace for our souls? 

Leonard Cohen sings in his song, ‘Anthem’,
“Ring in the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”.

The light has come into this world.  He longs to be lulled by your squeaky soul.  It is a paradox we will never understand but it is one that we can embrace fully.  Let us rejoice and be glad.


Bar20 Hoppy said...

Long live Leonard Cohen and a few other heels.

Dina said...
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Suzanne said...
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sbo said...
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