Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas

Photo taken on the morning of December 13 when we had snow.
Tonight is Christmas Eve, and for me, it is the culmination of the four Sundays of Advent.
This year, the themes of my messages were Lamentation (hope), Expectation (peace), Anticipation (joy), and Celebration (love).
You can find condensed versions of those messages posted on my Facebook author page.

Christmas Eve is a funny thing to plan. Half of the congregation, who have attended each Sunday through Advent, won't be there. And most of the people who come to church on Christmas Eve haven't set foot in church in a year, let alone for any Sunday in Advent.
So I plan a stand-alone service, one that doesn't wrap up the four weeks of Advent. I want everyone to get something out of the service, and not feel lost because they don't know what I'm talking about. I don't get too worked up about those who only attend church on Christmas Eve; it's the reality of the modern church.

What I love about planning for the Christmas Eve service is getting to do something special, and this year, we have two special moments, near the end.
A seven-year-old girl will come forward carrying the baby Jesus (doll) and place him (the doll) in the manger inside our stable. Then I get to declare that Christmas has come!
And then I'll read the following poem, which I've been anticipating since I discovered it a few weeks ago. I may only have a chicken coop but this poem hit me hard in the heart.
It's called "Remembering That It Happened Once", and it was written by Wendell Berry, an American poet, essayist, environmental activist and farmer. If you haven't checked out his writing, make that one of your resolutions for 2020.

Remembering that it happened once,
We cannot turn away the thought,
As we go out, cold, to our barns
Toward the long night’s end, that we
Ourselves are living in the world
It happened in when it first happened,
That we ourselves, opening a stall
(A latch thrown open countless times
Before), might find them breathing there,
Foreknown: the Child bedded in straw,
The mother kneeling over Him,
The husband standing in belief
He scarcely can believe, in light
That lights them from no source we see,
An April morning’s light, the air
Around them joyful as a choir.
We stand with one hand on the door,
Looking into another world
That is this world, the pale daylight
Coming just as before, our chores
To do, the cattle all awake,
Our own white frozen breath hanging
In front of us; and we are here
As we have never been before,
Sighted as not before, our place
Holy, although we knew it not.

(from the Salt Project e-newsletter, November 26, 2019)

Happy Holidays from the field! May the next few days be filled with peace and joy, and plenty of cookies. xo  

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