We have developed a tradition for Christmas Eve. We start the evening with the wonderful, intimate fireside service at Cleveland Park. We then head to the neighboring National Cathedral for the grand, not-at-all intimate late service. When we get home around midnight we flip on the broadcast of midnight mass from the Vatican. While waiting for the pope’s homily, I go to the shelf and get Whistling in the Dark by Frederick Buechner, one of my favorite writers.
Here’s what Buechner writes about this particular night:
“Christmas itself is by grace. It could never have survived our own blindness and depredations otherwise. It could never have happened otherwise. Perhaps it is the very wildness and strangeness of the grace that has led us to try to tame it. We have tried to make it habitable. We have roofed it in and furnished it. We have reduced it to an occasion we feel at home with, at best a touching and beautiful occasion, at worst a trite and cloying one. But if the Christmas event in itself is indeed—as a matter of cold, hard fact—all it’s cracked up to be, then even at best our efforts are misleading.
“The Word become flesh. Ultimate Mystery born with a skull you could crush one-handed. Incarnation. It is not tame. It is not touching. It is not beautiful. It is uninhabitable terror. It is unthinkable darkness riven with unbearable light. Agonized laboring led to it, vast upheavals of intergalactic space, time split apart, a wrenching and rending of the sinews of reality itself. You can only cover your eyes and shudder before it, before this: ‘God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God . . . who for us and for our salvation,’ as the Nicene Creed puts it, ‘came down from heaven.’
“Came down. Only then do we dare uncover our eyes and see what we can see. It is the Resurrection and the Life she holds in her arms. It is the bitterness of death he takes at her breast.”
In the midst of all the excitement and complexity of the next few days, take a moment to open your eyes to see the miracle and the grace.
P.S. Please remember to pay your 2017 pledge if you haven’t already done so. And please remember to make a pledge for 2018. We are very close!
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Christmas Eve Poetry, Lessons & Carols Service, 12/24—This will be a joyful morning service of poetry, scripture and song. There will be no Sunday School, but children of all ages are welcome.
Fireside Christmas Eve Service, 12/24—Join us in the Parlor at 7:30 pm for a cozy fireside service of traditional Lessons and Carols. Friends and Family are welcome!
New Year’s Eve Service, 12/31—We’ll gather in the Parlor at 10:30 am for an Auld Lang Syne Service, remembering things past and looking toward what’s to come. There will be no Sunday School, but children are welcome, and the Nursery will be open.
“What’s a Congregationalist and Why Does It Matter?” 1/7—Celebrating our centennial is a great time to learn more about our denomination’s history! Join us after worship for a discussion with Margaret Bendroth, Executive Director of the Congregational Library in Boston. She’ll tell us about our roots and what it meant and means to be a Congregationalist. Peggy is a great speaker and loves celebrating church anniversaries.
MLK Gospel Service: “Sing for Freedom!” 1/14— We hope you’ll join us for our third annual MLK Weekend Gospel Service led by folk singer and acoustic musician, Diana Wagner, www.dianawagnermusic.com. All musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments and play along (there will be a run-through at 9:30 am). Everyone else, come prepared to SING!