My children are preparing for their winter socially distanced holiday recital, and we have been flooded with a flurry of details, items to purchase, things to organize. One of the flyers that came this week was for a t-shirt they could buy promoting the recital and the cause that will benefit from the proceeds. The shirt says, “Best Christmas Ever.”
I was glad my children were not around when I saw the flyer because my immediate response was to scoff – out loud, in my house, looking at a piece of paper with indignation. Best Christmas Ever?!? Had the dance studio lost their minds? What about this Christmas could possibly be the “best”? Families are separated, some of whom have not seen each other in over a year. The Coronavirus is rapidly spreading, with the death toll in the United States now over 300,000. And despite a transition in political power, we remain as divided as ever, struggling to find peace among our brothers and sisters.
After recovering from self-righteous indignation, I began to think about the approaching Christmas season, and what the Church, and I as her priest, have invited people to do. We are still inviting our parishioners, friends, and neighbors to join the Holy Family on Christmas Eve and sing songs of praise and thanksgiving. Although we honor grief and suffering at our Blue Christmas service on December 21, we are still making a claim for hope, for light, and for love. Even with our church buildings closed again, we are still encouraging the church to gather in their cars for a drive-thru, or by their hearths with their devices to join with the shepherds as we go to see this thing that has come to pass. Perhaps to an outsider, the work of the Church this next week seems as ludicrous as claiming this Christmas is the Best Christmas Ever.
This week, I find myself humbled. I know the Church is going to ask a lot of you over this next week. You may not feel like singing carols, or hearing the familiar story, or watching candles flicker as we pray. And that’s okay. But, if it is alright with you, we are going to keep doing it anyway. The Church has always been full of resurrection people. We cannot help ourselves once we know the Risen Lord. And so, when the Christ Child comes next week, we will keep holding on to light, to joy, and to love. We will keep holding on to the promise that Christ is with us always, even to the end of the age. We will keep shining the light of the Christ Child, reflecting his light to all. And we will keep believing and trusting for you until you can come to the place where you can believe and trust yourself. You do not need to rush. We will keep holding the light until you are ready to take it up yourself.