The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. O come, let us worship. Alleluia
Readings (Click the links to see the readings)
Paul Gaugin. Be be (The Nativity), 1896.
John Rutter (1945- ). What sweeter music. Choir of King's College Cambridge.
Christmas blues, Epiphany light, by Richard Helmer, rector of the Church of Our Saviour, Mill Valley, Calif.
Well, the whole thing is a recipe for the Christmas blues, if you ask me—and I always have a few of those in the first few weeks after Christmas, where the carols and the garlands and the greens have started to lose their crispness. Sunday attendance is low, and some folk are already taking down the Christmas lights or tossing out the tree. Cardboard is piling up outside the recycling bins and children and adults are already getting bored with their new toys. Put in Christian theological terms: Jesus needs changing, the shepherds have returned to the grunt and grime of the fields, and the wise men are packing up to leave. There is even the sinister story remembered the week after Christmas of Herod's horrific slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem, and Mary and Joseph fleeing with the Jesus into Egypt.
I don't know about you, but there's an idealist in me somewhere that expected the world to be permanently altered after Christmas—filled with light from the little town of Bethlehem and harbingers of peace and transformation for the new year. Instead, the Gaza strip and portions of Israel are under bombardment, and hundreds of people are losing their lives. Closer to home things are thankfully not so violent, but the checking account still needs balancing after a December binge and, with the recession looming large, planning for the New Year is anything but rosy for most, if not all of us.
As we turn to Epiphany, I take heart from the perennially uplifting passage from the prologue of John: "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it."
It sums up the hope we are to take away from Christmas and into Epiphany—hope that we nurture and hold in the darkness for ourselves and even more importantly for one another. The author of John, with rough-hewn Greek dispensing profound theological ideas insists on seeing our lives, the world, and all of creation through God’s eyes: a God who called us good before we saw the daylight; a God who birthed galaxies and quarks; a God who still looks at the world with all of its darkness, haunted by old hurts, and still calls it good. And we receive this light to carry: the newborn Christ, the newborn hope that is ours for the taking. Sometimes, like Mary and Joseph, we take him and flee the violence of the world. At other times, we cradle and shield him like a vulnerable, flickering flame in the darkness of a grimy stable.
Once our son forgets he ever had [toys] made in China, there will still be this light shining in the darkness for him. And, for me, that's good news for Christmas blues, shining in the darkness with Epiphany light, waiting for the next chapter of God’s redeeming grace to unfold.
God of love, Father of all,