Now that we have baked our cookies and trimmed our trees,
now that we have wrapped our gifts and planned our dinners,
now that we have hung stockings, sent greetings and set tables,
assembled toys, trimmed wicks, written Santa and hung wreaths,
the time has come to abandon it all,
if only for a moment.
Even as we anticipate our day of celebration,
Wisdom turns to extinguish the colorful strings of lights and dim the gleaming star.
Pinching out her candles
Wisdom sighs the music away, then brushes laughter off to rest in deepening drifts of silence.
Standing in stillness before her window,
Wisdom gazes toward the mystery of Christmas
And smiles at this truth – Christmas needs us not at all.
Christmas depends not at all on our planning
and cares not a whit for our preparations.
Christmas is neither a sale nor a dinner,
neither a gathering nor a party.
Christmas cannot be reduced to the worship of believers
or the customs of the world.
Christmas is everywhere and nowhere at once,
like moonlight or a passing breeze.
It is the song of hidden birds and the thrill of sudden flight,
a hallelujah sung in secret
by exultant, broken-winged angels.
Christmas is a voice
telling an unbelievable tale with the confidence of a child
who murmurs to a single, astonished heart.
Christmas is a song,
rising and lilting to confound arrogance and pride.
Christmas is a sob, a peal of laughter,
a ripple of joy ringing through the night,
a sudden gasp of exaltation and love.
Above all, Christmas is a story,
words piled upon words and yet more words,
words lovingly arranged by invisible hands
until their form becomes the Word, resonating with mystery and beauty.
In language so plain,
so simple and unadorned we nearly miss the mystery of it all,
John tells us Christmas is a celebration of this Word,
a blessed confrontation with the source and sustenance of life.
In the beginning was the Word, the good saint says,
and at the end will be the Word.
And in these middling times?
Amid these broken spaces
where the longing of our hearts meets the limits of our lives?
There, too, the promise holds,
the promise that the same Word that spoke order out of chaos,
that enrobed itself in human flesh and came to enliven both heaven and earth
will echo forever down the corridors of our lives.
The Word of Christmas is a Word of promise and hope.
It is a Word that endures in the midst of emptiness.
It is a Word that cuts a path through brokenness and pain.
It is a Word that challenges every easy assumption of our lives
and it is a Word best sung by angels,
their voices rising strong and sure into the night.
These are the nights when angels sing.
And if the tune has changed,
if the lyrics seem unfamiliar,
if the secret chords compelling their song
seem unlikely to have echoed that first Christmas night,
it is the same Word still.
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