This Christmas brought me an unexpected honor: Br. Robert asked me, as the youngest member of our community, to carry the baby in procession to the crèche at the end of the First Vespers of Christmas. I wasn’t prepared for the quiet power of that role. As I carried the baby from the church into the dark ambulatory, followed by a hundred small lights, and quavering voices singing “Silent Night,” my eyes filled with tears and my throat choked. It was an act so terribly terribly small, and the darkness so overwhleming and deep. Yet there we were, our little band of the faithful, carrying these tiny lights and proclaiming that God took human form in a small and vulnerable child, to be with us, to lighten our darkness so that we can lighten the darkness of the world. What a radical and absurd hope we Christians have!
You see, God comes to us as a small child, not because we’ve gotten this world sorted out and God wants to congratulate us. No, God comes in the darkest dark of our night, when all hope seems lost, because that is when we truly need God to save us. So often we’re looking for God as a blazing fire that will burn away the injustice in our world. Or a superhuman that will remove us from the mire of our humanity. Instead, God comes as the smallest light, a little candle flame that cannot be extinguished. And God takes flesh as a tiny human child to remind us that we do not find our salvation by escaping the human condition, but by inhabiting it fully in all its messiness, pain, and uncertainty.
We Christians dare to hope, nay to assert, that God truly is with us, in us, all around us all the time. Truly the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. We are those little lights.
I leave you with a video of our monastic schola singing my favorite Christmas song: Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming. It says all that needs to be said.
May the light of Jesus Christ shine in your darkness, and may you dare to hope for your and the world’s salvation. A joyful Christmas to you all!
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