Christmas Letter 2014
Dear friends, we are in the countdown to Christmas. How many days will be left by the time you receive this? Not too many—but still an agonizing wait for younger children. As I expect you’ve heard on the radio, Santa Claus is coming to town. His arrival is eagerly anticipated. No doubt he’ll find his way to the festive tree in your house somehow, even if, as in the Rectory, the chimney has an insert. He’s amazing that way.
Meanwhile, the parents are also counting the days. Shopping days. The weather outside is frightful. But the company at the party is delightful. ’Tis the season to be jolly. And yet.
And yet, there there is often a blue heart under all the red and green trappings. Hard things happen in the holidays, just as in the rest of the year. Even a great parade of lights can’t change winter nights from being long and dark. And the world still cries for justice and peace.
Still, who doesn’t love a parade—and the annual Christmas Pageant? I was very impressed by the parade held here in Millbrook. And I can’t wait to see the shepherds and angels coming yet again—each generation taking its turn—to see the babe born in Bethlehem. It is a good thing to celebrate as a community and to retell the great story of the birth of the Messiah in a humble stable on a star-filled night. A beautiful Vespers service by candlelight at St Peter’s Lithgow ought to help that Christmas spirit as well.
It also helps to remember that Christmas is a season, not just a day. Stretch out the celebration for twelve days, instead of front-loading everything to Advent and a single night and day. And in that spirit, consider there are twelve months in a year, and each month will have a day or two in which the spirit of Jesus may happen to touch you in a special way. Perhaps old wounds that are tender in the holidays will be healed in the spring. Perhaps a child camping out in the summer will wonder at the stars at night—and, if he listens closely, may still hear the angels singing. Perhaps you are on a journey to see the King, and God only knows when you started or when you’ll get there; it took the magi months. But I pray that one of these days you will find yourself in a small village, or a country barn, or a crowded city, and you will remember that Jesus Christ was born this day, the child of Mary, the Son of God. He came to bring peace on earth and he comes even now to give new and eternal life.
May God indeed act with power and come again among us, bringing peace where there is war, justice where there is strife, healing where there are wounds, and love above all. Come Lord Jesus, be born again this day in our hearts.
May God bless you and all those whom you love and care for, Matthew+