...And So The Angels Came

This week, I was simultaneously preparing for this service, the candlelight services, needs of First Parish now that Jenny’s has departed, performing a memorial service, preparing for another and trying to find some understanding of the Newtown deaths, gun control and mental health issues.

The day ... the night... we have waiting for- been preparing for, is about to arrive. It is wrapped in tinsel and glitter... smelling of cookies and roasting turkey... it sounds like sleigh bells muffled by the silence of freshly falling snow.... ... a legacy passed down through the ages of memories, stories and illusions.... we have been told the way things used to be... we are filed with all the current should be's and ought to be... at the same time that we see the way things are...Christmas comes, weaving the expectation, the reality and promise.... distorted by commercialism... amplified by the loss of 26 angels, changing consciousness and the limitations of time and resources.....

Our expectations at Christmas... reflect our expectations of life... If we are seduced by false expectations rather than joy, hope peace or love, we may find disappointment, self-indulgence, and self-recrimination. Too often we find ourselves in a season of stressful doing... rather than the comfort of simply being....

I sit on the not profit board of Sweetser a service provider for Maine- we had our board meeting Thursday AM and I was only half present, anxious to leave- to get on with the list- of holiday preparation, my family arriving and the sermons, unfinished. Then, the angel’s arrive- the youngest of our clients, young people who live at Sweetser school for foster youth with mental illness. There they were, singing carols… their eyes aglow- and Christmas was in the room- The Newton angels were in the room- and for just a moment. The truth of Christmas was revealed.

… and so the angels come, reminding us of the truth of Christmas. Listen for them, thank them- Janice at the Main St Café- and all the JAnices who offer their familiar comfort to our over extended lives, Jane at Open Table- and all the JAnes serving the needs of thos less fortunate- they are in church offices managing orders of service poinsettia lists and memorial inserts, in music directors office managing choirs of angels, filling the holes of absentees too busy to rehearse- welcoming the stranger inspired by the moment- they are in pastoral care lay leaders, listening for the fall, the illness or the death, and they are in every child care provider wondering about how to hold and secure and be free of fear. Teachers, plumbers, furnace fixers and policeman, fireman angels all- post masters and mail deliverers – angels keeping the deliveries, expectations and hope flowing through the every day miracles we have all come to expect.

When a Child Asks about angels, hug them with the warmth of your body- wrap your wings around them- whether you are in line of a the 24 /7 check out checking one more gift off your list- Remember the people at Starbucks- or Macy’- the workers sustaining the 48 hour retail marathons unfolding. –

Oh Come all ye faithful... joyful and triumphant... The chorus of angels reminds us- Christmas lives in our unfinished chain of cranberries and popcorn half covering the tree... it's light sparkles in the eyes of the sick child who is so glad you stayed home with her... The voices of angels remind us is the resiliency of the human spirit to endure... the love of friends able to comfort... in the feeling of oneness whether it is at the Boston Ballet – with all the teary eyed taking in the magic of the Nutcracker- alone, at the top of a hill or witness to the soft quiet falling of the first snow.

The angels whisper, from the world around us- atop the roofs- or in our hearts- Tis the season- of joy, hope, love, and peace. Sacred is the darkness as well as the light.... Holy is death as well as life... Christmas is revealed in each moment of preparation... in each song we sing... joy and triumph come to the faithful who serve, who care, who carry on, proclaiming the miracle in life as it is... in valuing the struggle for the moment if offers and the strength it creates...in all its glory in all its imperfections... the moments, each unique and precious are here to celebrate... to remember that is to be an angel- find your wings.

Musical Offering

Das Neugeborne Kindelein
Dietrich Buxtehude

Closing Words:

So the shortest day came,
And the year died
And everywhere down the centuries
Of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing
To drive the dark away
They lighted candles in the winder trees;
They hung their homes with evergreens;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
to keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling,
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us- Listen!
All the long echoes sing the same delight
This shortest day
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, and give thanks
And hope for peace
And so do we, here, now...
Welcome Yule!

- Susan Cooper