Christmas is always an emotional time. And it has its own Spirit that can carry us away. We all get caught up in the experience of a dark church singing Silent Night as the candles are lit and the light spreads.
In most years, we get caught up in Christmas. But this year we have to choose it. We have to make a choice for Christmas.
Recently I was reading a Christmas sermon by Warren Swenson. He says the biblical passage from the Christmas Eve service that we should pay special attention to this year is the Letter to Titus. Now you might be saying “what is that?” I remember Luke’s story of the census and the innkeepers and the shepherds and the angels and the manger. I remember all the great Christmas hymns. No one ever comes out of a Christmas Eve service saying, “Wow. That reading from Titus was really awesome.”
But it is there. The second reading. Here is part of it:
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all…Jesus Christ gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.”
The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to ALL. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry did not preach about Titus in his Christmas message but his words help us understand it. “Mary gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. There, in the simplest bed, lies the One for whom no room was made. And yet strangely, there lies the One whom not even the universe can contain.”
The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all. And what is our response to that greatest gift? Titus says it is a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.
I have been inspired over and over again by the generosity of our churches to community organizations that are addressing the rising food insecurity of this time and other social needs. And checking in on one another. And finding ways to be community in such a challenging time. And by doing the good deed of wearing a mask.
And may we be zealous in choosing the resilient spirit of Christmas this year. We might not be caught up in Christmas because some of our traditions are not happening the way we always did them. And there is a deep sadness to that. But we can choose to live in the Spirit of Christmas. No one says this better than Howard Thurman, a leader in the Civil Rights movement and a great theologian.
“I will light candles this Christmas
Candles of joy, despite all the sadness.
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch.
Candles of courage where fear is ever present.
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days.
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens.
Candles of love to inspire all my living.
Candles that will burn all the year long.”
We are blessed by God taking flesh in Jesus and the gift of salvation. May we respond zealously with the good deed of choosing to be a light in this world. May God bless you with a resilient Spirit this Christmas.
Photo Credits: TEC Stock collection; used with permission