Monday, December 22, 2014

When Time Stands Still (A Christmas Letter)

Christmas 2014.

Dear Friends,

The waiting is almost over!  I remember as a child I had this visceral sense of what it meant to wait for Christmas.  The anticipation, the expectation, the excitement, it was a whole body experience that literally had us bouncing up and down by the time Christmas morning actually arrived.  Now as a grown-up, that pre-Christmas time that we call Advent has changed somewhat.  So many things to do before the end of the calendar year!  So many errands to run before the guests arrive!  As a child the challenge was to get through the waiting.  As an adult my challenge is to make space for Christmas.

This fall we had a series called ‘Engaging the Questions’ at our St. Al’s@5 service.  Last night was our final question and it was this:  ‘Does God still show up in our world?’  It’s a question that makes all the difference.  Depending on how one answers, Christmas is either a great time of remembrance or a time of great anticipation.  And as often happens, that first question led to a second:  when God shows up, will you notice?

One of the things that gets in the way of noticing is that for many of us, time just seems to run faster and faster.  That’s one of the reasons we’ve been trying to slow things down a bit in Advent.  In fact, not only do we try to slow things down, but, at least in our Sunday worship in Advent, time runs backwards.  We start out with the end times, an anticipation of the future return of Christ.  Then we move back in time to John the Baptist, and then back even further to Mary and her encounter with Gabriel. 

At Christmas, with the birth of the child, time will start to move forward again.  But the hope is that just before time resumes its forward march, it will stop, if only for a moment.  It may be that moment just before we light the candles at our Christmas Eve Candlelight service.  It may be that moment when everyone is seated at table just before the meal begins.  But whenever and wherever it is that time stops for you this Christmas, I hope that in that space where the present touches the eternal, you will know that God is with us, now and always.

May God bless you with a wonderful and holy Christmas.

Grace and Peace,
Rev. Mark +

Christmas at St. Albans:
Dec 24 Christmas Eve, 5pm:  The Christmas Story and Eucharist (suitable for children)
Dec 24 Christmas Eve, 9pm:  Candlelight Eucharist
Dec 25 Christmas Morning, 10am:  Eucharist and Carols
Dec 28 First Sunday of Christmas, 10am (no 5pm service)

Jan 4 Epiphany, 10am and 5pm

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