I offer my love and gratitude to all. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year and I look forward to more fun and heresy when I return mid January......
Christmas Elevator Message
I set myself the challenge of giving a Christmas “elevator talk” this evening. That is, I want to say something meaningful in the time it would take to ride an elevator, let’s say up and down the CN Tower in Toronto. It’s a glass elevator with amazing, panoramic views, so my hope is that this elevator talk might offer you a broader and clearer view of the Christmas story and its relevance in today’s world.
Our gathering tonight features the Sanctuary Choir singing Vivaldi’s Gloria. Huge appreciation to them for all the hard work that went into that. It was a new experience for many of us, including the staff. What’s the difference between the C3 staff and yoghurt? Yoghurt has culture. Except of course Jackie Fisher. Jackie came to the staff a few months back and said she wanted to consider the Gloria for Christmas Eve. Most of us looked at her dumbfounded. The only Gloria we knew was Van Morrison’s rock classic. G L O R I A, bout five feet four from her head to the ground, Gloria……
She said it wasn’t Van Morrison. It was a Cantata. From that moment forward it became affectionately known as the Vivaldi Frittata.
Lack of sophistication aside, Jackie had me intrigued. What relevance does Vivaldi Gloria have for Christmas? I did some research. I loved what I found, and I’m excited to share it with you. Take a long look out the glass elevator of your imagination and be prepared to be inspired.
Vivaldi struggled with health and poverty throughout his life. He had a dubious love life, frowned on by the church of his day. He died a pauper and was buried in an unmarked grave. And yet he was a wonderful human being with a progressive heart and a prodigious musical talent. Vivaldi spent most of his life working in an orphanage in Venice. (Ospedale della Pieta) Abandoned children were passed through a hole in the orphanage wall. The boys were taught trades. The girls got married, became nuns or were taught music. Vivaldi trained the most talented of the girls. His all women’s choirs are believed to have been some of the best in the world. They performed behind metal grilles high above the audience, so that noble men would not be distracted. Instead the angelic voices would take them to heavenly places.
You get the picture. Vivaldi is now one of the most famous composers of all time, known to have inspired Bach. But he spent his life receiving orphans through a hole in a wall and passing on his musical gift.
Doesn’t that sound a little like the Christmas story? The story of Jesus, that has inspired millions of people over thousands of years, began in a backwater inn. A frightened family trapped in poverty, condemned for immorality, fled for their lives.
Doesn’t it sound a little like the story of the world today? People trapped in cycles of recession and anxiety, searching for meaning.
Does it sound at all like your life? Trapped in cycles of self loathing and fear.
Take heart- Vivaldi’s story is every person’s story. The Christmas story is your story. Look out the glass elevator of your imagination.
The message is clear. In the spirit of Vivaldi’s Gloria, let me offer it to you in Latin. Things sounds so much grander in Latin. I saw a great bumper sticker. In Latin it said, “Sona si Latine loqueris” which translates as ‘Honk if you speak Latin”. My Christmas message in Latin. “omnia vincit amor”…..Love Conquers All!
The anxiety of your life. Love conquers all.
The despair and uncertainty. Love conquers all.
Children abandoned and futures unsure. Love conquers all.
The Christmas story of hope against all odds. Love conquers all.
Your story of courage in the face of crisis. Love conquers all.
So now we are almost done with our elevator tour of Toronto. Your vision is broader and clearer. The Christmas story comes into clearer focus. You have your Christmas miracle. The wonder of Christmas is your best humanity offered as a gift to the world. “omnia vincit amor”…..Love Conquers All!