Newsletter, December 22, 2020
Birth and Death
My mother died on Friday, December 13, 1991. Earlier in that week, my family reached me with news of her decline and I was able to arrive home from Ecuador to be with her in those early morning hours. Her death was not sudden; she had been on the journey since a serious stroke three years earlier.
As my sisters and brothers gathered in the days that followed, we shared wonderful memories of this remarkable and most loving woman. Of course, while we were preparing for Mom’s funeral, everything around us was wrapped in Christmas lights, decorations and cheer. While that may have appeared to make our grief more painful, it did not.
Preparing for celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ – and the power of the promise of this infant king – opens for the Christian the deepest mystery of God’s love. In and through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord, through the ages and today, we joyfully proclaim: “In death life is changed, not ended”.
It is the story of life – each life an immeasurable gift, a unique work of art from the Creator, never meant to end, always destined for eternity. Living in this truth can transform our grief and sadness. Not changing it or making it go away, rather transforming it to accept our human frailty and look beyond it to the Author of life and the promise of life eternal.
Christmas 1991 was a peaceful and sweet time for my family. We remembered with deep love and gratitude as we celebrated the Birth of the Messiah, the font of all Love.
Christmas 2020, well maybe you and I need to do something similar. Painful losses beyond measure have been part of everyone’s life as well as the life of our nation and world. The human frailty of our nation has been exposed like never before. Nonetheless, we look to Bethlehem and recall Immanuel – God is with us.
The hope we long for is not only from a vaccine but more so, from re-embracing the infinite Love, discovered by the shepherds, sought by the kings, and here for us this day.
A Christmas Blessing
Source of Divine Light, Emmanuel, God with us,
Your radiant love illuminated our waiting world
with the surprise of your Bethlehem birth.
Each year since then, we celebrate this astonishing event,
rejoicing in your coming anew, not as a newborn Babe,
but as a hidden presence of divinity contained within each of us.
To our great astonishment, we have become your dwelling place.
We are now Your Bethlehem.
Now you are Treasure birthed in the secret place of our soul.
Now you are Light gleaming through our gestures of generosity.
Now you are Hope radiating inside the core of our courage.
Now you are Joy shining into the dark caves of our gloom.
Now you are Peace glowing quietly in the crevice of our anxiety.
Now you are Love brilliantly reflected within our kindness.
O Christ, Light of all lights, Star of all stars,
dweller within these human homes of ours,
open our wandering minds and hesitant hearts
so your endless goodness radiates more completely in us.
We welcome you again and again, with gratitude and trust,
not only in this Christmas season of remembrance and celebration
but all through the New Year that awaits us.
~ Joyce Rupp