Pastor’s Corner: December 2015

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”  Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.  Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

    “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”

Matthew 2:13-18 

My hands were in the dishwater washing the mess from the two previous meals, the warmth of the water a bit soothing after a long day at school. The house was quiet except for the clinking of dishes.  Occasionally I looked down the driveway hoping to see the lights of David’s truck heading towards home. I don’t usually mind silence and I don’t typically mind being a lone. I considered turning the stereo on, it’s just above the sink, to listen to NPR and Maine Things Considered or maybe I’d put in a few Christmas CDs.  Christmas CDs sounded nice. Instead, I washed in the silence and looked for David’s headlights. 

Most years I have Christmas Music playing sometime between Halloween monsters and Thanksgiving leftovers. I just haven’t felt like doing it this year.  The news is one long song of lamentation: violence against refugees, violence against innocents who represent ‘otherness’, violence against the violence to stop increased violence.  The stories of woe give the prophet Jeremiah a run for his money. How can this season of “Love and Joy come to you” be so loveless and joyless? Where’s the Hope sung about in all those carols?  

Or as Charlie Brown cried out, “Can someone, please, tell me what Christmas is really all about?” Linus replied, “Sure, Charlie.” then recited Luke’s version of the birth narrative.

Luke’s gospel tells of a peaceful birth with shepherds and friendly beasts around the stable.  Matthew’s gospel is different. Matthew’s gospel tells of the violence and the abuse that was part of everyday life – the reason for the cries, the reason a Savior was needed.  An earthly hell so like today it’s, well… scary. 

Into the midst of that earthly hell this little baby, Jesus, was born 

and in that moment Joseph and Mary found Love & Joy coming to them  

and in that moment the prejudice of some and the welcome of others was blotted out by Love & Joy

and in that moment the world didn’t end but a new Hope was born into the world

and in that moment on earth heaven and hell met 

God came to be with God’s people here on earth – in their human existence 

even if they couldn’t recognize Him because of their hatred, their anger, their violence

the Love & Joy still came to them and Can & Will come to you and me, too. 

Refusing to give into the anger and hatred is looking for and seeing the Love & Joy come.  It’s not ignoring the realities of these evils but acknowledging that we are not alone with these evils; that God is with us and showing us a better way.  The coming of Love & Joy in the most despairing of time is the life-line of Hope we all seek. Many will seek – Some will find – others may never try. But the Love & Joy still comes.  

So maybe I need to be a part of that Love & Joy coming into the world – to overcome the evil with good, the darkness with light, the noise with singing, the curses with praising, the exclusion with welcome, the hatred with love.  Our time is not the only time the world has seen such things. God has been born into every time and continues to be reborn again today: Love & Joy still comes to you. And me.

Guess I’ll put on John Denver’s “Muppet Christmas” and sing along – above the noise.

  Grace & Peace,
Rev. Chellie

A Little Good News

by Tommy Rocco, Charlie Black, and Rory Michael Bourke  released Sept. 1983

I rolled out this mornin’ the kids had the mornin’ news show on
Bryant Gumbel was talkin’ ’bout the fighting in Lebanon
Some senator was squawkin’ ’bout the bad economy
It’s gonna get worse you see, we need a change in policy

There’s a local paper rolled up in a rubber band
One more sad story’s one more than I can stand
Just once how I’d like to see the headline say
“Not much to print today, can’t find nothin’ bad to say”, because

Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town
Nobody OD’ed, nobody burned a single buildin’ down
Nobody fired a shot in anger, nobody had to die in vain
We sure could use a little good news today

I’ll come home this evenin’, I’ll bet that the news will be the same
Somebody takes a hostage, somebody steals a plane
How I wanna hear the anchor man talk about a county fair
And how we cleaned up the air, how everybody learned to care.  Whoa, tell me

Nobody was assassinated in the whole Third World today
And in the streets of Ireland, all the children had to do was play
And everybody loves everybody in the good old USA
We sure could use a little good news today

Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town
Nobody OD’ed, nobody burned a single buildin’ down
Nobody fired a shot in anger, nobody had to die in vain

We sure could use a little good news today.

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