In past years, this is crunch time for me. I make mad dashes to the mall to pick up last-minute gifts, prepare worship services for Christmas Eve, and visit shut-ins. I learned to navigate the craziness of the season by finding joy in all my busy-ness. There is a rush of adrenaline rushing to get the perfect gift for different people. My immediacy matched by everyone else as fellow shoppers unite with the same goal in mind. I find a sense of purpose and ritual in the madness of the holiday season.
This year is vastly different. Like many others, I bought most of my presents online as in-person shopping is frowned upon due to the risk of acquiring the dreaded Covid-19 virus. Gone are the rituals that in some strange way brought meaning to this particular time of the year. Planning for worship is not the same as preparing to provide meaningful virtual services and parking lot services. My soul cries out that it wants the moment on Christmas Eve when the congregation raises candles to the skies as we sing “Silent Night, Holy Night.” There is something spectacular to see from a pastor’s view the families that stand together, filling the air with beautiful harmonies. For a moment, there is a sacred space of incredible peace. The holiness of the light in a dark room captures the splendor of the season.
This year, we will not share in the same space the hope and mystery of the holiday. Should that prevent us from discovering other ways of providing sacred space? I think not. The good is that the darkness gives way to the light, even in the strangest of circumstances. Perhaps we can establish new ways of maintaining our traditions. We could light candles with our immediate family and take in the beauty of the light. Remember, Christ’s light shines in us everywhere we go. This year offers us a new challenge to express our faith to those closest to us. Maybe the ones that we hold most dear may need to hear the message from our mouths directly. Tell them, the light came into the world, and in so doing, offered us a way to shine in every circumstance. On this day, I wish you a joyful end to the second week of Advent.