The Light, The Blessings
I love this week between Christmas and New Years. It’s a no-pressure time when we can relax and reflect (while eating leftovers). The day after Christmas, I stayed in my pajamas until mid-afternoon, did some reading, watched the birds at the feeder, and thought about my Christmas blessings and hopes for next year.
St. Alban’s Christmas community dinner counts as a big blessing. Our MANY guests represented the rich tapestry of this city’s people. More than a few greeted us like old friends, clearly considering this gathering their Christmas family. Folks made a great effort to attend, traveling on foot or by bus. I was touched that a Metro Access van for the disabled even brought a few diners; the driver helped one woman in and said he wished he could stay. I think our guests who are new to this country saw us at our best, and I thank God that our church conveyed a message of love.
With not too much of a break, my family arrived for Christmas dinner in my home. A family tradition of the last few years is that the adults donate to relevant charities in lieu of purchased gifts. I love it that our Christmas may help sick and struggling children, the environment, abandoned pets, refugees …. The grandchildren now choose what gifts they think fit us. My seven-year-old granddaughter earnestly whispered, “Grandma, I know religion is very important to you, so I thought you should have this angel.”
How wonderful, to end this difficult year with such fine memories. It gives me a springboard to hope for the future—for my family, my church, my country. I embrace Christmas a little more tightly this year, having been pretty sick in the spring. I need Christmas a little more urgently, having been anxious about our nation’s values and our church’s unity. But a special baby was born a long time ago, bringing the promise of peace and joy in the midst of any struggles I can imagine. This Christmas light indeed breaks through all kinds of darkness. Where have you seen the light of Christ this Christmas? Where will that light shine in your 2017?
Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light
and usher in the morning.
You shepherds, shrink not with fright,
but hear the angel’s warning.
This child, now weak in infancy,
our confidence and joy shall be,
the power of Satan breaking,
our peace eternal making.
Johann Rist, 1607