December 24, 2020 - Christmas Eve
Many thanks to the Rev. Matt Schultz for the foundations of this sermon.
’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the town
Not a person was stirring - We were all hunkered down.
The masks were all hung from their ear-straps with care,
In hopes that their vaccine doses soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their rooms;
While the parents logged out of meetings on Zoom;
We changed out of our work sweatpants, into our jammies,
Sad to be so far from grandpas and grammies.
Christmas was different this year that’s for certain
People felt lonely with hearts that were hurtin’.
Our Christmastime cheerfulness stuck in a lurch,
With no room at the inn, and no one in the church.
Travel bans thrown up between towns and nations
Part cabin fever and part isolation
Homeschool was hectic and holidays harried
My mood was more mopey and angry than merry
When then in my heart there arose such a clatter,
I gladly remembered the heart of the matter.
Christmas is more than the usual traditions,
Compulsively re-done in rote repetition
We miss those things, sure, but they will return
This temporary turmoil’s only short-term.
And add to that, this trouble helps others you see
Our quarantines help save all humanity
And caring for others, well that’s the whole deal -
That’s living the deep Christmas Spirit for real!
Our hope and our peace, our joy and our love,
They’re as bright as the Bethlehem star up above.
And what happened next? I’d be hard pressed not to say
“The spirit of Christmas showed up anyway!”
It showed up in cards and gifts mailed state to state
Even if some get there days or weeks late.
It came without gatherings. It came without crowds.
It came without carol groups singing out loud.
It came without parties to brighten our lives,
It came without potlucks, without PS-Fives.
But Christmas showed up in the calls across miles,
In zooms and in texts, and instead of hugs, smiles.
It showed up in generous charitable donations
And churches who now have online congregations.
It showed in the love of the simple, kind task
Of caring for others by wearing a mask;
In treats left at doorsteps by night and by day;
And shouts of “Merry Christmas” from six feet away.
And some day my friends, SOME DAY we’ll be back
To all of those potlucks and parties we lack;
To singing in choirs and singing in bars;
To cozy carpooling squished into one car;
To shaking hands, high fives, fist bumps and hugs;
To to airplanes with center rows packed in real snug;
To going to games where we cheer in the bleachers;
To going to school with our favorite teachers;
To clicking a headline that has happy news;
To passing the peace side by side in these pews;
To restaurants, barbershops, and concerts aplenty;
When finally, FINALLY, we’re through 2020.
This hard time will pass, keep the faith; do not fear.
We’ll gather again my friends, same time next year...
So keep Love and Peace, Hope and Joy as your light—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
From my family and me to all of you, I wish you a safe, holy, blessed Christmas, where the birth of the Christ child is the center of your celebration. In the words of Christina Rossetti in her poem Love Came Down at Christmas:
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.
May that love shine forth in your life tomorrow and each day. Amen.