Dear friends:

I love Christmas music: classical, jazz, folk, and even a little bit of country (with 10% less twang than average, please) and listen to it regularly. Nothing is more pleasant than coming home to Christmas lights on the door, presents under the tree, the aroma of cookies in the air, and Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time is Here” filling every room with joy.

It’s enough to cheer even the most Grinchy heart.

Most of us could use an extra dose of cheer this year. I think it’s the heightened sense of disconnection that is most troubling. Many of us already feel disconnected — from God, family, meaning, purpose — and don’t need a pandemic’s help to feel more so. 

For me, music has a way of reminding me that the deepest, most precious meaning of Christmas is that God has come to us in this humble, human, vulnerable way to bring us back into the family, to connect us — through him, Jesus Christ — to our God and to one another.

And what invitation could be more important this Christmas? God comes to each of us, particularly to those who feel they are not connected to others, or to God particularly. At some time, that means every one of us: an invitation to a family reunion, a reunion with the God who loves us so much a child was given; a reunion with those we love best, with friends, associates, colleagues — all of us, because of this birth, now part of the family of God.

The late American poet Anne Porter put it so simply and beautifully in a Christmas poem she called "Here on Earth:"

Taken all together
Or taken one by one
We are the holiest
Of all of earth’s creatures

For he who kindled
The Fire of the sun
He who draws out the tender leaves
From the dark twigs of winter …

Has also carved our names
In the palm of his hand

And he became a child
The better to be near us
Born in the wintertime
Born on a journey

He grew to be a man
And lived among us
To be our healing
When we were sick
Our bread
When we were hungry
To be the wine
At all our weddings

(An Altogether Different Language: Poems 1934-1994 pp. 65-66)

I hope sometime over the next week, each of us will find a quiet moment or two to accept the invitation to know that regardless of our particular circumstances, because of His birth, we are part of a big family, God’s family. And may that invitation be a source of joy, even in the midst of the disconnectedness, the pivots and plans we’ll all be making, and bring a heightened sense of God’s joy and peace.

I hope to see you this Sunday at 9:30 or 11 a.m. and Thursday on Christmas Eve at 5 or 8 p.m.

With abundant gratitude for you all,
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