Articles

A Christmas Greeting from the Dean

DECEMBER 24, 2016

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

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.

Pastor Edmund Sears composed the poem which has become the Christmas Carol It Came Upon the Midnight Clear. He did this after suffering a breakdown. It was a time of personal melancholy during which he was also surrounded by news of revolution in Europe, with this country’s war with Mexico fresh in his mind. Some felt he did not hear the Christmas message when he wrote:

With peaceful wings unfurled
And still their heavenly music floats
O'er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing.
And ever o'er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.”

Yet the reality of endless battles between good and evil throughout human history frequently forces the Message to be uttered on bended knee amidst the cacophony of Babel sounds – of mean-spiritedness, bigotry and hatred, bullying, and disregard for the respect and dignity God intends for each and every one of us.

The angels who said “Fear not” also sang to the Holy Refugee Family of Bethlehem –uprooted by force – as they sought safety and a home.

They accompany our journeys as well, as we endeavor to follow the Star.

And every time we listen, each time our hearts are warmed, whenever we are emboldened and our weary world strengthened by that heavenly music, that Star gets brighter – and Christmas comes again.

Each Christmas the opportunity is renewed for us 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.

Then Jesus is birthed again into the human story. We need no longer be afraid as we are reassured that we are part of God’s plan for salvation.

That is the Incarnation: the Word made flesh and dwelling in us and among us.

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!