The Candy Cane Sermon
Scripture: Luke 2:8-20
Offered Sunday, 12/25/22 at Coronado Community United Methodist Church, New Smyrna Beach Florida.
God is constantly speaking, reaching out with wisdom, encouragement, and invitations. Yet, many of us have trouble hearing from God. We’d like an angel with a clear message. Well, maybe not, they’re fearsome. How about a classic red phone hotline?
There are classic spiritual practices to help us hear from God. One is Visio Divina – Latin for sacred seeing. Visio as in vision. Divina as in divine.
When practicing Visio Divina, we allow our hearts and imaginations to look at something deeply while listening for what the Holy Spirit has to say to us. You may have practiced this before without even knowing it. Have you ever stopped to watch a sunset, investigate a flower, or ponder a beautiful piece of art?
Psalm 19:1-4 says, “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world.”
There are four main movements to Visio Divina – Attention, Connection, Invitation to Action, and Prayer.
Attention – Let’s say you’re looking at a sunset. What specifically about the sunset captures your attention? A cloud formation? A color? The speed of the sunset? The wind?
Connection – How is what you’re noticing making a connection for you. It could be a connection to a situation you’re struggling with, a line from scripture, an attribute of God, an answer you’re seeking, etc.
Invitation to Action – How will your day be different because of this experience? Do you hear the Spirit inviting you to start or stop something, to say or not say something?
Prayer – Continue the conversation with God.
VISIO DIVINA – A CANDY CANE
- Guess how many candy canes are sold in the US annually? 1.76 Billion
- Candy canes are said to have originated in the 1670s at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The choirmaster gave sugar sticks to the boys’ choir to keep them quiet during Christmas services. They were eventually bent so they could be hung on Christmas trees.
- It’s thought a German immigrant debuted the treats in Ohio in 1847.
- In the early 1900s, the red/white stripes were added along with the peppermint flavoring. A real candy cane is white with alternating red stripes, a bold stripe alternating with a stripe of three strands.
Find a real candy cane and spend a few moments looking at it deeply. Since it’s delicious, you could also enjoy tasting it. What captures your attention? Where is it making connections? As you quiet yourself and open yourself, are you hearing any invitations?
Last week, I spent time with a candy cane making a list of items that caught my attention. It was more a mental exercise than a spiritual practice. As I practiced an actual Visio Divina with it today, the sweetness caught my attention. This reminded me that God wants good things for me and the world. God is working for good. I heard an invitation to allow myself to trust God even more as I make my way into the new year.
I’d love to hear about your experience with the Holy Spirit speaking through a candy cane. Leave a comment below.
1. The Color White – lamb’s wool, Lamb of God, purity, holiness, sinless, cleansing, virgin birth. Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” The song Jesus Paid it All says, “sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow.”
2. The Color Red – blood, sacrifice, Passover, crucifixion
3. Stripes – flogging. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his stripes we are healed.”
One Stripe – We believe there is One True Living God, no others. This is confirmed in the Ten Commandments and in the Shema, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. And as for you, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
Three stripes – Trinity, the Magi brought three gifts to baby Jesus
4. Mint – In the time of Christ, horsemint was used for medicine and tithing. It grows wild, with large course leaves. Horsemint does not taste like peppermint.
5. Sweet – Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
6. Shaped like the letter J for Jesus. My friend Macon said it reminded him of a fishhook. Jesus invites us to leave our nets and to follow, to be his disciples and “fish” for people.”
7. Shaped like a shepherd’s crook – Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Jesus sits on the throne of his ancestor David, who was also a Shepherd. The lowly shepherds were told of the birth of the Messiah, not those with power, money, and position.
8. The candy is hard – God’s promises are solid, a steadfast and strong foundation.
You and those you love are welcome to worship with us in person on Sundays at 9:30 AM and 11:00 AM. You’ll also find recordings of our 9:30 AM service on YouTube.
© 2022 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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