Articles

A Christmas Greeting from the Dean

DECEMBER 24, 2015

Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine as we celebrate Christmas!

Former Honorary Cathedral Canon Howard Thurman wrote the poem, The Work of Christmas:

When the star in the sky is gone,
When the Kings and Princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins.
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To teach the nations,
To bring Christ to all,
To make music in the heart.

Today we gather to reclaim a great mystery of faith. As we enter and acknowledge the Darkness that can often surround everyday life, we renew our faith in the Light that cannot be overwhelmed by any darkness.

That is why Isaiah long ago proclaimed that:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.” (9:2).

We participate in the battle waged between good and evil that forms the arc of human history, and assert our role in being people of the Light and forces for good. We stand up for those creatures of God who, by greed, violence, and disrespect for their dignity, are denied the abundant life God intends for all.

The angels again speak, this time directly to us, and say “Fear not.” And the Holy Refugee Family of Bethlehem—also uprooted by force—shows us the capacity we all have to follow the Star.

May Christmas be a time when we overcome our depressions, doubts and uncertainties. May we cast away fears—of failure or of vulnerability—and see that Star burn again, so that it can stir us up as advocates for justice and peace.

That is the challenge each Christmas – to ponder the message in our hearts, and to dare to be open to and transformed by it. As we celebrate The Gift and see the diversity of all the people of God who share in that gracious invitation, we are strengthened and emboldened.

And knowing that Jesus is birthed again into the human story, we need no longer be afraid. We are reassured that we are part of God’s plan for salvation. Truly then, when the Star is gone and all return home, we are able to begin the Work of Christmas.

That is the Incarnation: the Word made flesh also dwelling in us—all of us, everywhere.

May you hear the angels speaking to you this Christmas. And may you represent the Light which will overcome all darkness and fear. Merry Christmas!