Picture1Dear Friends,

Like clockwork, Christmas comes around. “Peace on Earth” is a phrase uttered at Christmas. Christmas is the time to be happy and to celebrate. But it isn’t always quite so bubbly. For those who experience hardship, loss, or are just down because it is gray and wet, Christmastime can be heavy not light.

On our minds this Christmas will be the violence in Paris (among other places) and the fearful response by leaders and would-be leaders who wish to capitalize on the fear by exercising their power and closing their borders. Peace on Earth. No room at the inn. Bono must have had a bad day when he wrote “Peace on Earth.” A few lyrics:

Jesus, could you take the time
To throw a drownin’ man a line
Peace on Earth
Tell the ones who hear no sound
Whose sons are livin’ in the ground
Peace on Earth
No whos or whys
No one cries like a mother cries
For peace on Earth
She never got to say goodbye
to see the colour in his eyes
Now he’s in the dirt
That’s peace on Earth

The Christmas story for all its holiday cheer is really about violence, oppression, paranoia, and the displacement of refugees looking for shelter, for kindness, for hope.

And yet…Christmas is a star, a stable, and a candle flickering its hope in the darkness. This is from Howard Thurman:

I Will Light Candles This Christmas

Candles of joy, despite all sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch.
Candles of courage for fears 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.

Light candles with us, won’t you? Christmas Eve at 5:00pm and 11:00pm.

I am also planning on a “Tidings of Comfort” service on Monday, December 21 at 7:00pm for those who have experienced loss, are feeling overwhelmed, or are just not up for the “Christmas spirit.” Bring a friend.

Lighting with you during Advent and Christmas,

John