Christ is born! Alleluia! The angels are singing, bells are ringing. Today is the day when we are reminded of love that comes in the most unexpected ways and stays. Entering into Bethlehem we are reminded of God's YES, that is always with us, even when, especially when we aren't sure. YES! Even when we are too tired to believe it. YES! Even when we doubt that we will be able to catch our next breath. YES! Even here, at the end of one doggone tough Pandemic year, even here, Christ enters in. YES! God's promise of Emmanuel, I will always be with you - is born in Bethlehem this day.
In the beginning words of John’s gospel proclaims to us, “The Word became flesh and dwells among us.” Pastor David, spoke these words at our socially distanced, outdoor Christmas Eve service. As we were preparing to again this year, especially this year light our candles and sing Silent Night, we were reminded of the words that have changed everything. The Word became flesh. In this year of so much, of too much…COVID, racial injustices, politics, marching, shouting…on this day, for this day, “The Word became flesh.” Now there is a living presence that knows so well the angst of our days. In this event now there is true peace that passes understanding. In our weeping, God is present. In our fearful, sleepless nights, God is present. In our laughter, God is present. In all of our holding on and letting go’s, God is present. Today’s event of Incarnational Love enters our hearts as well as our heads when we hear Shakespeare’s line, “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die?” This day we open our hearts to the hope that comes with Christ’s birth into the world. This day we open our minds to all the ways YES can transform us and transform even this moment in our stories.
Our Advent encouragement bumper stickers: "Pay attention." "Stay awake!" "Not yet" are life-gifts from this journey. We need to continue to carry them with us past Bethlehem. Because the truth is, as important as it was for us to make this pilgrimage, this isn’t our ending place. Soon, and you will know when it's time, soon it will be time to set your course and set off in a new direction. Left foot, right foot. Companioned always by the Gracious One who created and is creating still, we are called to step into the world carrying additional messages: of “Peace”, of “Hope”, of “Joy”, of “Love”.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1: 5)
Blessed Christmas to you this day. I am so very grateful that we have shared this journey, shared these December days. I am grateful for your companioning with me on this uphill climb that was first endured and now has somehow shifted these 2020 days. May you be surprised by joy and held in love. May you know that peace that enters in and then settles into unexpected spaces and places. May you take comfort and strength in coming to understand perhaps for the first time Emmanuel, God-with-us. May God’s coming and becoming human invite us into believing in all that is possible, all that is not yet, all that is YES. May God bless you and all you love on this Christmas Day.
"Time is different here," I heard my Mom's voice say a couple months after her death. Journeying through these Covid-19 days, remind me of the gift of those words. You are invited companion me on this 2020 Advent journey to Bethlehem, as we seek Emmanuel, God who promises always to be with us.