After a long and beautiful day of Christmas Eve services, I woke this morning far too early. Yesterday, surrounded by beautiful music, lovely words, the amazing sight of faces lit with candlelight, carried me through the night and left me wide awake in the early hours before the light had arrived on the newly, fallen snow. Having been up till the wee hours of the morning seemed to make little difference. I was like a child on Christmas morning! As I walked down the stairs, I could see our young neighbors, elementary aged boys, already awake, sitting in their pajamas near the Christmas tree. I remember those days well. A house filled with the excitement of children clambering to see what Santa had brought.
But this morning my heart is filled with another kind of joy. It is the full hearted gratitude of a mother who loves spending time with the young adults who now sleep in a little later on Christmas morning but whose conversations amaze and provide such happiness. Their dreams are bigger than the toy that might be under the tree. I am grateful to be in their presence, in their lives. Such gifts these seasons can bring. Time spent with dear friends whose faces may have a few more lines than last year but are more beautiful to me than I can express. I think it was the sheer blessing of my life which awakened me. Not a bad thing at all.
Christmas Eve services can provide that rush and glow we all long for at some deep level. Those of us whose work is in the church spend hours, days, weeks, months planning and working to create the moments when meaning is made or rediscovered. We all need those touchstones to remind us of the faith we share, the stories that hold our feet to the ground and, sometimes, to the fire. Christmas Eve services can do that. I feel blessed to be a part of it all. To remind people that this God, which is mostly Mystery, showed up in a place long ago and far away and the telling of this holds us, gives shape to our lives and our living.
But each year, as we tell this Christmas story, I am always reminded of the words of the 13th century German mystic, Meister Eckhart. Once I discovered his words and his wisdom, the worshipful acts of Christmas, have never been the same:
What good is it to me
if Mary is full of grace
and if I am not also full of grace?
What good is it to me
for the Creator to give birth to his/her Son
if I do not also give birth to him
in my time
and my culture?
is the fullness of time:
When the Son of God
And so, on this Christmas Day, when I awoke far too early and will certainly need a nap, I feel blessed by this challenge as well as the candlelight and the friendship and the glow of a night now passed. I carry the story of 2000 years in my bones but my work is the living of this Christmas story in my time. It is the gift of the season to us all. It is a gift that may just possibly keep us awake at times.
And so with that gift still opening in all of us, may this day bring a blessed Christmas.