“We Cannot Continue with Christmas”
This headline caught my eye as I scrolled through my morning newsfeed. With the fears and restrictions of the pandemic weighing so heavily on us, laments this particular news source, Christmas as we know it cannot continue.
Perhaps that is yet another of the hidden gifts in these dark days of COVID-19—to have “Christmas as we know it” stripped away, so that the wild, simple truth of this season shines clearly. One of my favorite Christmas poems by Madeleine L’Engle comes to mind:
This is the irrational season
when love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
there’d been no room for the child.
Mary, literally filled with Jesus, births the “fullness of God” (Colossians 1:19) into the aching emptiness of our world. In Jesus, God comes to live with us, that we might live with Him, and begin even now to experience and share the intervention, comfort, and shalom for which we’ve been praying this Advent. It’s crazy, but true, and tonight we celebrate its beautiful truth at our Christmas Eve service, and again during our Lessons and Carols service on Sunday.
Ann Witty wrote me these poignant words in an email earlier this week:
“My heart is yearning for a full choir and bells and lots of special music. This is when the constraints of Covid hit me the hardest. This is when I feel the loss the most. I have prayed a lot about this and my sense is that with so many of the earthly trimmings taken away, God is preparing to be with us in a very special way. I am praying now that my heart, and the hearts of all of us, will be open to this.” Amen.
Join us with open hearts on Christmas Eve at 7pm at Gray’s (please preregister or via livestream. Additional gifts during the service will be the pre-recorded “Alphabet Nativity Poem” created by Immanuel Kids, and carols led by a variety of voices from members of our choir.
And join us again on Sunday for Lessons and Carols at 10am, ready to hear the Story in its fullness, and to hear even more voices from our choir. This Story is how the proclamations and prayers of this Advent are fulfilled:
· Come! Intervene. Ignite our world. Set things right.
· Comfort! Forgive. Restore. Be present.
· Create! Let your vision for the world break forth to us and through us—shalom.
· Plant! Plant your presence within us, as we say “yes” to you.
I’ll close with words from the prophecy of Isaiah, which seem particularly relevant this year:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone…. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given….” (Isaiah 9:2, 6)
Your Pastor in Christ,