Saturday, December 22, 2012
When will it be Christmas?
That's a question children ask over and over again because Christmas can seem so long in coming. I'm not so old that I don't remember asking that question when I was a child.
I know the obvious answer to the question above is, "December 25th." But I'm thinking here of another take on when Christmas "happens" in our our lives.
Increasingly (and unfortunately) it seems that some folks believe Christmas has arrived once Thanksgiving Day dinner is over! I hope that's not the case for readers here. But I'm wondering, as Advent winds down, what's the moment for you when it seems that "Christmas is here!" Decorating your tree? Putting the angel or the star at the tree's top? Baking cookies? Candles in the windows? Wrapping gifts? Sending and receiving cards?
Those are all joyful expressions of the feast we're preparing to celebrate. For me, there are two musical moments, right at the end of Advent, when I know in my heart that Christmas has arrived.
The first is standing in line for the entrance procession at the first vigil Mass for Christmas and hearing the organ begin to play, "O Come, All Ye Faithful." At that moment I know that I'm about to enter a procession with Christians around the world, gathered to celebrate Christ's birth. That traditional hymn sings a message some 2,000 years old. When I hear the organ play the introduction to Adeste Fideles, it's Christmas!
The other musical moment is hearing "Silent Night" at Midnight Mass. I remember singing this as a child and it has a powerful way of connecting me to my earliest memories of Christmas. That we're singing it in media nocte just deepens the experience of the night in whose silence all holiness was born into our world.
This year especially, I think of some for whom it might seem that Christmas won't come this year, because of loss and grief. In some ways, all of us have lost a piece of Christmas because the peace of Christmas has been so disturbed by recent events. And yet, this is the feast of faith that invites us to trust that violence and death never have the last word. The last word is God's, God's Word made flesh in Christ Jesus, born in Bethlehem of Judea...
O come, all ye faithful and find your peace in this silent night...
When will it be Christmas for you?
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Posted by Austin Fleming at 12:46 PM