Friday, December 23, 2022

A fuller meaning of Christmas

A handful of our brave staff and volunteers ventured out to the soup kitchen for our Christmas dinner this afternoon amidst some pretty hazardous driving and weather conditions. While the snowfall isn't too deep here yet, the wind and the chill are dangerous. I am grateful to those organizing and running our city's shelter, especially during these days.

I am always amazed by the faithfulness of the Emmaus community, but I shouldn't be; they always show up. Whether it was the height of the pandemic when so much about our safety and wellbeing was uncertain, to a rather serious and extended Christmas storm today, so many are selfless when it comes to living the gospel in the daily.

I recently stumbled upon this reflection from Old Monk in her book, A Monk in the Inner City. The reflection is titled "Yuletide Carols," and it captures so wonderfully why we wait in hope for the coming of our incarnated Savior.

The Advent season is especially meaningful this year. The snows are heavy and deep and comforting. It is easy to pray with Isaiah,

Though your sins be red as crimson,
I will make them white as wool.

And there is such silence. City noises, encased in yards of white swaddling, are muffled. Cars, concrete sidewalks, and other hard objects lie buried under the soft snow.

We are forced to slow down—walk carefully so we don’t slip; drive cautiously so we don’t skid. We can spend more time indoors reading, listening to music, and praying. We prepare. For soon, “when the earth is in peaceful silence, and the night is in the midst of its course, your almighty Word, O Lord, will leap down from heaven.”

It’s easy to get sucked into thinking that this is what Christmas is all about.

Thank God for the soup kitchen. Is there a lonelier place on earth as Christmas nears? The guys start drinking in the middle of the month so that by Christmas week they can’t even hear the words “I’ll be home for Christmas” blaring on the radio. It’s their only defense. We try to make it less sad. But even handing out brightly wrapped socks and scarves and lotions, or having a party and singing Christmas carols and drinking hot chocolate doesn’t ease the heartbreak.

I’m grateful for both experiences—quiet confident joy at the coming of the Savior, tempered by the harsh reality of human suffering. Together, they capture a fuller meaning of Christmas.

Thank you, Old Monk. And Christmas blessings to you all! May you be incarnated love each day.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Mary graces our Emmaus office, also waiting hopefully.

The tree graces chapel, and the photo doesn't do it justice.
It's from our woods, and it's totally magnificent.
The liminality of Advent and Christmas on display.

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