The first Christmas that I admitted to myself that I was no longer Christian started out being a difficult one for me. I could no longer be the recipient of ‘Good Tidings of Comfort or Joy.’ The lie that my fancy nativity set represented made me feel like a hypocrite so I packed it all up and put it back in the garage–feeling pretty sorry for myself. I felt deep sadness too, that my children would grow up without feeling the magic of the miracle of Christ as their Savior. I had flashbacks to the Christmas of my childhood –the one when I found out the truth about Santa. Christmas had fallen very flat for me that year. Both unwelcome revelations of no Santa and no Savior made me feel like I stood on shaky ground. What was the next strong belief that I now cherished but was soon going to turn to dust?
Then I read something that hit me like a ton of bricks and forever gave me back an authentic reason to celebrate Christmas. (I have tried to relocate these words in order to quote them here and give credit to the author but I can’t find them. Maybe Karl Sagan?) Anyway, the gist of the message was that if you truly stopped to consider the miracle of existence itself, the miracle of the virgin birth seemed negligible in comparison. (I believe the author called it “chump change” in fact.)
Unitarian Universalists express this same idea with the words, “Every night a child is born is a holy night” but I was years away from discovering you folks. Anyway, at the time I was very glad to realize that I could still feel awe and reverence and the glow of something much bigger than myself if I based Christmas on the miracle of existence itself and tried to appreciate how incredible it is that any of us ever came to walk this earth in the first place. Happily I decided it was okay to let my nativity set represent the miracle of all our existence and it was restored to its honorary place in our living room.
My Unitarian Universalist ‘Tidings of Comfort and Joy’ that I share with many of you are that the divine resides in each one of us instead of in just one carpenter’s son. Our tidings are the blessing of belonging to a religion where spirituality and science can meet and get along. Our tidings are that we can search for and assign meaning to all the days of our lives and that our theology can grow and change like any other healthy thing because it isn’t handed to us already carved in ancient stone!
For those of you who have children, or are a child at heart, I look forward to our Family Christmas Service this year which we will hold in the Sky room. I anticipate sharing with you one of my other favorite Christmas stories that I didn’t get to tell last year. I take special satisfaction in happy holiday UU services because we have such wonderful tidings of Love and Acceptance to offer the world! Have a very, very Merry Christmas.