I was excited to send you Christmas greetings from the whole staff. We’d gathered, 8 out of 10 present in Zoom’s little boxes. Our hair was coiffed, our backgrounds free of paper piles, and 1 of us had even pushed pause on their vacation to be part of wishing all of you the spirit of the season. When’s the last time you’d seen almost all of your First Congregational staff team together?
I was so excited! Then I went to review the video we’d recorded…and it hadn’t worked. It was just another example of my tech learning curve lagging behind my dreams. It brought to mind all the other attempts to try something new that have not worked for many of us these past months. You start an important meeting online and the internet freezes. You plan a distanced-and-masked walk with a friend but before you get there you twist an ankle.
That’s the season we’re in, isn’t it. We’re all trying to recreate traditions, build new rituals, find alternative ways to honor the spirit of Christmas when the familiar paths aren’t available to us. You light a candle for hope or peace and wonder what means right now when your loved one is struggling with addiction or depression or job loss. You deck the halls with greenery and lights wondering who they will bring joy to besides you (if you).
And then, somewhere in your spirit where Ebenezer Scrooge may be wheedling his “humbug” in, the voice of Dr. Suess might suddenly take over, “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.” That is—in our Christian-speak—even if you don’t lay out your favorite manger scene this year, the child at its center is already being born.
Jesus comes despite pandemic. The Messiah comes despite physical distancing and technology glitches. He comes despite grief or illness or painful emotions like loneliness. Despite ongoing social or political failures. The Christ comes and will turn the world around once again—as he always does.
This pandemic won’t last forever. But Emmanuel—God With Us—will.
Season’s greetings from Pastor Sharon and your whole First Congregational Staff
Cydne, David, Judy, Kurt, Laura, Lisa, Lucy, Renée, Sharry