Technically, it is already Christmas. I’ve arrived home from services with a lot to process and I need time before I can transition to sleep and then to family, presents, and food “tomorrow.” So here we go…
I love Christmas Eve. Carols are my favorite, especially when they are the Willcocks edition of anything. I love the candles and the telling of Luke 2. I love post-communion silent night, in the dark, a Capella . I love that all the waiting for Jesus through our Advent passes and we get to celebrate on this special night.
As you might imagine, celebrating has not been first on my list this year. I’m more focused on getting through each day without inconsolable tears, making sure Parker doesn’t bite anyone, and keeping my house to a relative level of dirt. My energy for these first two things, plus trying to give my best at work with my kids has not really given me enough left to celebrate.
I’ve had the blessing these last few months of being a staff singer at an Episcopal church in DC. This has been such a gift. While it takes me away from my blessed home parish, it has given me a sense of purpose for a few hours each Sunday. Helping others worship by making beautiful music. And tonight was no exception. Two services-a Lessons and Carols and a Midnight Mass. It was a long evening-a full day’s work. The second service was just the small group of staff and choral scholars. I felt a sense of pressure to do my best. And that pressure was important because there were moments where I could feel my sadness begin to envelop me. I had to work exceedingly hard to hold back my tears. I had to compartmentalize and focus on the task at hand; making music to glorify God.
There was a small moment where I felt alone. In the realization that this was the first time in 36 years that I was without my family on Christmas Eve. But then I took a breath, looked out into the congregation and turned my mind another way. I was not alone, I was a “very member incorporate in the body of Christ.” This is part of why we have (the) church. For these moments when one feels alone, broken, sad…we are a part of this body that will pull us in and point is to our healer, our comforter, our joy-giver. And tonight, we all got to attend His birthday. All of us.
While I’m still awake and still a little weepy—I’m now home with a snuggling and sleepy dog—I am not inconsolable tonight because of the greatness of God and the gift of His Son. And while I may not be celebrating in my usual way and I am still broken, my heart is grateful.
Thank you, Church. Thank you, baby Jesus; Happy Birthday.
PS-here is the link to the wonderful sermon from Fr. John Beddingfield at All Souls Memorial Church, Washington, DC