Minimalist

Homily—15Dec13

In the Name of God: Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. Amen.

At the beginning of this service, we heard a work by one of America’s most prominent living composers, Philip Glass.

Glass is often called, a “minimalist.” His music focuses on just a few themes, and he repeats these ideas in only slightly varying ways. While this style of composing isn’t the only way to create music, many people find it a nice alternative to elaborate classical styles, like the Baroque.

And hearing Phillip Glass’s work may remind us that in religion, too, the minimal can be valuable. In religion, too, less can be more.

For example, some Christian leaders insist that believers accept every single doctrine of what the leaders consider to be traditional faith. Someone who doesn’t buy into the whole package can’t be a Christian.

And while the all-or-nothing approach works for some people, other folks find it unsatisfactory. Some doctrines seem obscure. Other doctrines seem archaic. Others appear to conflict with science.

For such people, a minimalist approach can be attractive. For it reminds us that what matters most in religion is finding God.

The precise form of church worship, or who is ordained, or when people are baptized, or what precise words are said in worship: these issues aren’t that important compared with making your connection to the divine.

All the more reason to be grateful that Christmas is a simple story of God appearing in the human world. It is about the Incarnation of God—the divine in human flesh.

Christmas is the celebration of a single event: the birth of a child lying in a manger.

When we speak of the “essential requirements of life,” we mean the minimum food, shelter, and clothing needed to keep us going. The spiritual requirements of the soul are also simple: In the song of the angels: “peace and good will.” In the words of the Gospel of St. John: “power to become God’s children.”

So we prepare this evening to celebrate the birth of Christ, and just as we appreciate the simple pleasures of this season—from hot chocolate to Christmas carols—we might also put aside the complicated parts of religion – and enjoy its simple pleasures. Instead of worrying about the creeds of religion, and its rules and regulations, we can be grateful for God’s promise to us, made over the centuries.

For God would keep the promise. The Messiah would come. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.”

Amen.


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