The Nativity of the Lord
“Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; break into song; sing praise!”
Our scriptures and Christmas traditions are full of joy and angels singing, of gathering together and celebrating with those we love. What does that mean for us this year–when many of us are grieving losses, celebrating away from loved ones, and struggling to find ground in the face of daily uncertainty? As COVID deaths continue to rise, we may feel far from songs of praise and Christmas joy.
Yet Jesus did not wait for the perfect time to be born. The Word became flesh in the poorest of conditions, to parents who were far from home and separated from their loved ones. And the very moment that Jesus was born into life, his life was under threat of death from Herod.
The message of the Christmas story seems to be that joy has little to do with what we might consider happy circumstances. Christmas joy is inextricably interwoven with human vulnerability and resides in Jesus himself. This tiny, fragile baby is quite literally the embodied “good news of great joy.” Not some theological concept but God’s “true light, which enlightens everyone,” physically present, actual human flesh. It is hard for the mind to comprehend or words to express. Yet shepherds and Magi alike were drawn into the warmth of the joy and love that is God, as it shown forth from this newborn baby. And we can imagine what they must have felt as this light shone upon them, the joy that must have arisen within them.
May we all find time this Christmas day to bask in the light that is Jesus. To let the “light that shines in the darkness” penetrate into our own bodies and being. To experience deeply this inexhaustible source of joy. Whatever the circumstances.
Please take a moment to listen to the musical meditation, Gustav Holst’s setting of In the Bleak Midwinter, on YouTube.
Lissa Romell is the Administrator at St. Vincent Strambi Community in Chicago, Illinois.