Hello St. Paul’s,
It’s Christmas Eve.
What are you usually doing on Christmas Eve?
Traveling, baking, welcoming house guests, keeping the kids from going nuts, rehearsing, maybe some last-minute shopping?
How different is it this year?
There’s lots of sadness and loss: some of us are missing loved ones, some of us are ill with COVID, some of us are feeling lonely and isolated. We are all missing our cathedral liturgy, our community, the splendor and the glory.
But maybe it’s not all terrible. This year, those of us who usually travel are staying home and sleeping in our own beds without all the stress of airports and highways. Those of us who feel obliged to spend Christmas with family members who we don’t get along with can breathe a sigh of relief. Those of us who usually host a big crowd can let go of the lists and the worry about having enough of everything. Those of us who work the Christmas Eve services won’t be exhausted on Christmas Day We can even go to bed early tonight and watch the Midnight Mass service in the morning.
And maybe all of those differences will help us find our way back to a sense of what Christmas really is: a great mystery, a holy day, a day of tenderness and simplicity, Christ’s Mass.
This faith of ours wasn’t born in a cathedral but in a stable. The Jesus Movement began in the supremely intimate act of childbearing, a young woman and her husband far from home, making do with boxes of hay and scraps of cloth. We have learned this year that the church isn’t the building, that we can create holy space on Zoom, that a phone call or a letter can be sacramental – an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.
That which holds us together is something more than concrete and tile; it’s more than ceremony and song; it’s the holiness of humanity, caught up together in global catastrophe, discovering together that there is something that even we, with all our technology and resources and skills, cannot control; it’s the sacred ground of a community of people, diverse, flawed, stubbornly independent, who have learned that when we walk together through the wilderness it isn’t quite such a wilderness, that there are people in our faith community who care deeply about us and who will hold us in prayer through all our anger and grief and frustration.
This is the body of Christ. This is what Christmas is for us this year. I pray that you may find the peace and joy in the midst of it all and be thankful. Alleluia, unto us a child is born. Come let us adore him, Alleluia.
Your sister in Christ,