I sit in the darkness of the morning. A candle is lit; and I pray. In the darkness, I write with pen and paper. I thought I had something to say about Christmas for The Lincoln County News. Instead, my computer is full of discarded drafts and the deadline is looming. Is there anything to be said about Christmas that hasn’t already been written by poets, artists, musicians, and theologians? I am clearly not up to this task.
The world is dark and gray outside my window. I notice the outline of bare tree limbs against the sky. A recent windstorm pruned the trees, a reminder of climate change. The world is gray, and I have nothing to say, so I sit in silence.
COVID-19, its delta and omicron variants are sickening people, filling our hospitals, and exhausting our healthcare professionals. Gun violence, political conflict, and rage inducing news stories fill our newsfeeds. And I can’t seem to write a Christmas reflection that doesn’t sound preachy or trite.
An angel appeared to Mary and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
And Mary sang a song of praise for the goodness of God and justice in the world. I look out into the gray darkness and imagine a waste basket full of prior drafts of an article. How could Mary sing a song of praise proclaiming God’s goodness in a time that was so clearly messed up?
I pull out a pen and a notebook and write long hand in the darkness. The angel appeared, “Greetings, favored one!” My heart opens. In the gray dawn, I sense God’s goodness in the world.
The people are tired of political conflict and determined to break down the barriers that divide us from one another. Healthcare workers continue to provide care for all the people. Faith communities reach out to one another and the wider community, standing with hope when hope feels elusive. People receive vaccinations, maintain physical distance, and smile behind masks.
At Christmas, God comes to us in the form of a child, later a man, who sees us, loves us and reminds us that we are beloved. Each of us is favored by God. We simply need to listen to the angel or the Spirit or the friend who comes to us and says, “Fear not, favored one.”
Christians around the world will gather this Christmas. We will gather in person, via Zoom, Facebook Live, Skype. We will find ourselves in the ancient story.
Perhaps we will be the shepherds on the night shift who are in the darkness when a light appears and they hear the words, “Be not afraid, for I have brought you good news.”
Perhaps we will travel with the sheep to seek the holy child lying in a manger.
Perhaps we will be like the magi following the star, greeting shepherds, and sharing our gifts.
Perhaps, like the magi, we will trust the dream that tells us to avoid King Herod who is plotting against Jesus.
Perhaps we will join the magi and return home by a different and unexpected route.
Perhaps we will be the manger and hold Jesus for the world to see. Perhaps we will be Mary and ponder all of this in our hearts.
There is always light in the darkness. Even when the day dawns gray there is light. When words fail us, when cards aren’t sent, when the world seems dark and filled with terror, pain, and violence, there is light.
Sitting in darkness, the light comes. With Mary, let’s sing joyful songs of praise.
(The Rev. Nancy Duncan is the pastor of the Broad Bay Congregational United Church of Christ, Waldoboro. The congregation gathers for worship at 10 a.m. on Sundays and will worship on Christmas Eve at 4:30 p.m. Services are both in person and online. For more information, go to broadbaychurch.org. For Skype link: email@example.com, or call 832-6898.)