Today we all stand at the edge of the calendar. Today we all come together, a few hours away from Christmas Eve.
For some of you, it is your 10th, your 26th, your 41st, Christmas. This year marks my 29th.
They say that when you repeat a word over and over — take the word love, for example: love, love, love –it loses its meaning.
Is it possible that the same goes for seasons and holidays and moments? We have seen this all before. We have watched the trees go up and the lights go on. We have hung the wreaths, braved soul-crushing traffic just to find the perfect gift. We have done inventory, making sure not to miss anyone, at the secret hour of the night.
None of this is all that new.
If that is so, does it matter? Can we cancel this repeat performance that runs the risk of going stale?
Love. Love. Love.
Sometimes I have to lose the word to remember what it means.
Sometimes I lose the word only to be found by it again, surprised by how beautiful it actually is.
Familiarity can hurt the soul. And the fact is: we can do Christmas over and over again until we forget but the meaning persists. Love will always mean exactly what it means.
For Christmas, it’s this:
Christmas is when the dark night of the soul meets the golden glow of an amazing promise. It is the celebration of man’s messiness and God’s stubborn goodness. It is our anthem when we are hopeless, the one that tells us that we aren’t alone. This fragile life may come apart at the seams but Christmas is a gentle reminder that our stories matter — deeply matter — to God.
Beyond the trappings of the green and red, the presents, and the noche buena spread, lies something true. And it will remain true, despite ourselves.
This Christmas, the one we get to live through tomorrow, is a chance to move, once more, through our long-standing traditions — to decorate the tree and tie the ribbons and eat with family & hold the underlying meaning of it all close to us, like a promise.
As you get to know God, and as you get to know Jesus, Christmas will be more than just an event. It will mean hope. It will mean that despite every insufferable thing we’ve been through this year – breakups and betrayals and wars and killings and misogyny and injustice – God remains. And He isn’t finished. Not yet. Not by a long shot.
As we stand at the edge of the calendar, all braving through different kinds of seasons, maybe the quiet assurance that not all is lost is just enough light to get us through the last leg of the year.
I know the holidays aren’t going to be kind to everyone. I know that some of you dread this time of the year. I know that some of you are still in the middle of sorting through your own traumas and pain. I think the worst thing would be for you to feel like you have to put on a mask just because it’s Christmas and you are in church.
No, we see you and we feel you. Please know that you are not forgotten; that we, as a community, hurt with you. If there are ways we can make this season more bearable for you, please know that we’d love to make that possible.
For those of you who have every reason to revel in joy, we celebrate with you. There are many good things on the horizon and we look forward to seeing all that unfolds for you in the coming year.
No matter where you are on the spectrum, May you live through this holiday season, be it lonely or joyous or a little bit of both, with the relentless consciousness that you are loved. It is a daring idea but today is as good as any for us to make that dare, to go ahead and place our bets. As we stand at this edge together, a few hours before the Eve, we don’t have to miss the meaning.
As we stand at this edge together, we all get the inexplicable chance to remember.
I hope, more than anything, that we take it.