December 21, 2023

This evening, as we begin the longest night of the year, we will gather for our annual Blue Christmas service, intended to offer a moment of peace to those who are hurting. 

As Christmas approaches, I have heard many people in both the congregation and society say that it does not feel much like Christmas to them. With the world they see around them, war in Gaza and Ukraine, the lingering malaise of the pandemic, political chasms and culture wars, they don’t feel like singing carols. It isn’t a joyful time. 

That’s ok. That’s what Christmas is for.  

In the Incarnation, God entered a country under foreign occupation, whose citizens were oppressed by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and finally by Rome. At Christmas, God came into a world rent by culture wars between the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. Judea, Galilee, and Samaria were simmering with ancient prejudices and hatreds. It didn’t feel much like Christmas when the Word became flesh and dwelt for a while among us. That’s why it took angles to start the singing. 

We can be those angels. We can sing “Gloria in excelsis” into the darkness in the face of war and death and division, remembering that Jesus was not born to take suffering out of the world, but to enter fully inro the world’s struggle and come closest to those who most need hope. 

If it doesn’t feel like Christmas to you, that’s OK, that’s what Christmas feels like. Try to sing anyway. Sing hope to the little town of Bethlehem, sing peace on earth to royal David’s city, sing Joy to the world, sing the first noel to those who have never heard. Be angels in the world’s darkness.