Chapel Happenings Holiday 2020

Chapel Happenings Holiday 2020

Dear Friends,

Do you hold a memory of a perfect Christmas? I remember many wonderful December 25ths, but as far as “perfect” goes, hmmm…I am not sure. Isn’t there always something a little amiss? The food overcooked, the dog knocks over the tree, a gift doesn’t arrive in time, a blizzard disrupts travel plans?

This year, the pandemic has just about guaranteed our Christmas to be far from “perfect.” Vaccines are coming, thankfully, but we are not out of the woods yet. This year’s holiday for many people comes with the pain of serious losses, and for others more fortunate, the less difficult but still unpleasant loss of traditions and and loving company we always look forward to. This year, it’s about precautions.

Perhaps we can take some comfort that the very first Christmas 2,000 years ago in Palestine took place amid circumstances that were far from ideal.

Nativity Scene, public domain image by Petr Kratochvil

The quaint nativity scenes on Christmas cards don’t reveal the backstory as told in Luke and Matthew. Young Mary’s pregnancy is scandalous. Joseph comes close to breaking off the relationship. They already bear the strain of living under Roman rule, and now there is an edict about a new tax. So off go the new couple to Bethlehem to register, and in that city, far from home, Mary delivers her baby in a crude barn. The crowds have taken all the rooms, and they have taken no note of this child’s birth. They don’t know that unto them was born that day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

But we know, and that is the joy of Christmas. Christ is born, and is born every time we allow our Savior to bring peace to us and peace to earth, even in times of crisis. The birth of Christ into the world means that when pain and suffering seem to overtake our human lives, God is ready to break through with justice and mercy. The scripture makes it plain: a sweet baby boy is born to a young, inexperienced mother amidst confusion and hardship. God’s will is to send Jesus to where we really live.

Christmas 2020 like other Christmases won’t be perfect. But Christians throughout the world have a chance this year to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas more than before. Emmanuel — “God with us!” – means the Lord shows up in unexpected circumstances, unprecedented times – even now.

As we await the holy-day with so much amiss in our world, let us remember that there is nothing amiss in Christ. “Do not be afraid,” said the angel to the shepherds (Luke 2:10). “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.”

Blessings to you from my heart for a safe and truly Merry Christmas!

In Christ’s love,

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