The First Glimpse of Christmas


In the morning, I ponder it all. The daily tasks await completion. Yesterday’s tasks were hurriedly accomplished, but not finished. The past lingers while the present demands. My mind struggles to hold it all in balance.

And yet the future continues to be there – untouched by my attempts to control and out of reach from the past’s long reach. Christmas is days away and I cannot yet touch it.

The people who have walked in darkness,
   have seen a great light.
The bar across their shoulders,
   You have broken.
The tools of war burn in the fire,
   around which we dance and rejoice.
– Isaiah 9

It was merely the first glimpse of the light. That first glimpse broke the bar across the shoulders. It was enough to forgo all the tools of salvation that had been tried in the past and found futile.

Is there a more beautiful sight than the first signs of the past’s defeat and the future’s promise? Is there anything more beautiful than the first indication that the weary and worn-down will not always be so?

Yes, there is – a congregation full of them, singing the mystery just where they are. The perks of the job are those Sundays when the whole congregation seems to radiate the joy that comes with the first glimpses of hope for a new day to come.

O sing to the Lord a new song
   sing to the Lord, all the earth…
Worship the Lord in holy splendor;
   tremble before God, all the earth.
                                                      – Psalm 96

I don’t always see it. I don’t always trust the new song.  My experience with defeat’s trajectory masks the first glimpse. I confess the silence that permeates from my heart when it is time to sing. I struggle to know “enough.” I hunger for more. I wait for the final ending before a new song can emerge from my lips. There are days when it just seems to risky to trust the One who holds it all.

But the invitation is continually there. The Holy One is determined. The greediness in the garden did not stop the Holy One. The repeated misadventures in the wilderness did not stop the Holy One. The ups and downs, the mistakes and the successes – nothing ever impedes the Holy One’s determination to disarm the past that haunts and plagues us.

I pause and give thanks for the first glimpse of Christmas – the invitation to remember that God is continually coming into the world in order to make flesh the divine’s eternal attachment to our lives.

The past crumbles at the first sight.
It becomes kindling for the new work to be done.
Past mistakes transform to new strength.
Past shame transforms to unmatchable beauty.

Thanks be to God for the persistent chase.
Thanks be to God for the moments when we are willing surrender.
Thanks be to God for the arms that embrace us – divine, human, and somewhere in between.

Christmas is on its way and I refuse to be silent. May my heart rejoice merely at the first glimpse of it all so that when it comes in abundance, my song might join in the heaven’s chorus – Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace.”


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