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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Spirituality: “Christmas Eve Vigil” By Kathleen Norris

By Christmas Eve, most of us find ourselves vert far from our true reasons for celebrating, reasons that are so eloquently expressed in the processional of the Christmas Vigil in the Byzantine rite: “Rejoice, Jerusalem! All you lovers of Sion, share our festivities! On this day age-old bonds of Adam’s condemnation were broken, paradise was opened for us, the serpent was crushed, and the woman, whom he once deceived, lives now as the mother of the creator.”

Here, in just a few simple words, is the essence of Christmas. It is not merely the birth of Jesus we celebrate tonight, although we recall it joyfully, in song and story. The feast of the Incarnation invites us to celebrate also Jesus’ death, resurrection, and coming again in glory. It is our salvation story, and all of creation is invited to sing, dance, and feast. But we are so exhausted. How is it possible to bridge the gap between our sorry reality and the glad, grateful recognition of the Incarnation as the mainstay of our faith? We might begin by acknowledging that if we have neglected the spiritual call of Advent for yet another year, and have allowed ourselves to become thoroughly frazzled by December 24, all is not lost. We are, in fact, in very good shape for Christmas.
It is precisely because we are weary, and poor in spirit, that God can touch us with hope. This is not an easy truth. It means that we accept our common lot, and take up our share of the cross. It means that we do not gloss over the evils we confront every day, both within ourselves and without …

Tonight we are asked to acknowledge that the world we have made is in darkness … At tonight’s vigil, in a world as cold and cruel and unjust as it was at the time of Jesus’ birth in a stable, we desire something better. And in desiring it, we come to believe that it is possible. We await its coming in hope.

Source:Goodness and Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas, pages 186-188.

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