A reflection for Christmas Eve 2023 by Christina Brennan Lee.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it… And the Word became flesh and lived among us…full of grace and truth.
—[John 1:1-5, 14]
Life on this Earth is never without a time of darkness somewhere that is deeper than the sunless night sky. Many of us privileged to know the Merry and the Happy of Christmas firsthand have also known grief and hardship at this time of year, and more than troubling news reports bring so much more poignancy in the midst of this season of Glad Tidings. Yet the true Light is all around and, as we are told elsewhere in the Gospels, seek and you will find.
In readings for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, there is ample evidence that we are to allow ourselves to be swept up in the glory of the birth of Christ that shone all around. Let us absorb the Light and let it shine in and through us now for ourselves and for others. God’s Word lives among us, still and always. This Child’s birth is a new birth for us all, a time again to throw off the curtains we have gathered around our souls, and awaken to a New Light. We, alone, cannot undo the ravages of war, hatred, loneliness, or hunger, but each of us in small and intentional ways can lighten the darkness for others and, in doing that we lighten the darkness for ourselves.
Beyond decorations and gift giving, let us each take heart, give heart, be the heart of Jesus. However trite it sounds it is nonetheless true that in a world filled with hundreds of languages, a smile translates the same for all. If a smile is all you have, give it frequently and unconditionally. If you have more, share more, equally without condition. It is time to begin anew with Christ Jesus. Meister Eckhart [13th century German theologian/mystic] said, “We are all meant to be mothers of God. God is always needing to be born.” There is no delivery more special than allowing Jesus to be born again within us. The beauty of holiness is ours, the fullness of grace and truth, if we but choose it to bring Him forth to a world never more in need than now.
May we remember again, from this day forward, that no matter our differences, real and invented, genuine and imposed, we each are part of the whole of humanity of color, language, height, weight, gender, in health, wealth, and poverty, in self-superiority and zero self-confidence, and every iteration in between. Jesus is our life partner showing and walking with us along the path toward a life of grace, truth, and love. May your Christmas, the New Year, and all the days to come, be filled with Joy, Light, and Jesus!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Every week, Christina Brennan Lee writes the Prayers of the People we use in our worship services on Sundays. She also leads weekday prayer services and serves on the SsAM Vestry. Click here to see her People’s Prayers website.