I was recently struck by the words of Charles Dickens, the Unitarian who brought back Christmas when it was going out of style by writing A Christmas Carol. In it he says “Christmas is a good time, a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time, the only time I know of in the long calendar year when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut up hearts and to think of other people … as if they were really fellow passengers to the grave and not another race of creatures.”
I’d say we need a little Christmas! Come Christmas and shed your message of light, peace and hope over our hurting world and hurting nation. Come into our hearts, families and country to help us start to heal the division and pain caused by this traumatic election year.
The church theme for December is Presence. I know of no other holiday that brings with it more of a sense of presence than Christmas season, a time of goodwill and giving. In all our giving of gifts that we buy at the store let’s not forget to give the greatest gift of all -– the gift of ourselves, our own presence. The magic of the season comes alive in the connections we make with others and the attention we pay to all that we have to be grateful for. If we have enough presence to be awake to the present moment we can understand that everyone has their own challenges in life and most people are doing the best that they can. We can summon the power of kindness and forgiveness to bless our lives and the lives of those around us.
This time of year lends itself well to bundling up the family for cold winter Christmas-light walks so we can come back home and cozy up to the fireplace, or furnace as the case might be – whatever puts out heat! This is the time of year for festive holiday parties and quiet nights watching snowflakes fall outside the window with a cup of tea and a good book. When I had little kids we would wrap up all our Christmas story books so we could unwrap one each night to read by the Christmas tree before bed. Such a simple thing but how sweet the memories are now that the kids are older. May we all allow the presence of this Christmas season to warm our hearts, calm our minds and satisfy our souls.
UU Maureen Killoran says it so well…
…….So come, Christmas, most needed of seasons.
Come with the reminder that love does not depend on
Perfection but on willingness to risk connection.
Come into the unready manger of our hearts
That we may feel the warmth of new life
And give flesh to the promise of hope
That cries to bring healing into our world.
Be born in our unready hearts
On this silent and holy night.
Janen Wright, Director of Faith Formation