|Each Sunday in the month of December we have lit the candles in our advent wreath. The first was for the gift of Prophecy- and we prayed for the ability to know what voices to listen to and what to ignore. The second candle was for hope, and we considered the hope that is a necessary ingredient in any preparation, and then with our pageant we lit the candle for Joy and last Sunday we lit the candle for love. Prophecy, Hope, Joy and Love are the ways in which we prepare our hearts for what is to come.
I am sure Mary and Joseph took a similar path. They listened to the prophetic voice of the angels, they hoped for an effortless birth, they approached their destination however imperfect with joy and looked upon their newborn child with love.
But what of the Christmas Eve Candle we lite tonight? What of the candle in the middle?
Well my friends this candle stands for peace.
The peace, that if we allow room for it, arrives, just before the revelry begins.
Too often we rush willy-nilly to the future with little preparation or time to pause and look around. With all the tinsel and the holly and the presents to wrap and meals to prepare and house to clean this candlelight service is sometimes our only reminder to take a breath.
Look around you in the candlelight.
This reminder is as much for me as it is for you.
I too am distracted by this shiny jolly season.
I often catch myself running from task to task forgetting to breathe.
Just last Saturday at about 7:45 a.m., I was just settling down in my living room with a hot cup of coffee and my laptop, hoping to get started on my Sunday sermon and get a head start on Christmas as well, when out of the corner of my eye I noticed cars starting to gather in front of the parish hall. What could it be? What could it be? In my foggy pre coffee haze I opened my calendar and with a stomach churning feeling I remembered that it was the Annual Dedham food pantry Christmas Dinner give away-- and I had forgotten to recruit volunteers.
This is the problem of not pacing ourselves for this busy season, when we pause we often reminded of the million seemingly important things we forgot to do.
I rushed out my door and headed right out to greet the organizers and confess my error. Lynn Rogal was so gracious, "oh I can let the others that volunteered know we need them." and suddenly we were off, arranging the bread and the baked goods, Judy Barrington was making coffee. And before you knew it all the clients had come through the line and the turkeys had been given out and it was over.
Christmas is like this too.
And this is what I am here to remind you of this Christmas E ve.
In this one quiet peaceful moment I want to remind you of the most important thing of all- and that is no matter how much you have prepared, or what you have remembered or forgotten to do Christmas is going to come anyway.
It comes just once a year.
And we spend months and weeks and days preparing for it but no matter what we remember or forget to do, it will come weather we are ready or not and offer up just one question...
In the quiet shadows of the candlelight,
In the manger surrounded by witnesses,
You are asked to participate in the light of hope, the light of love, and the light of joy.
And it doesn't really matter what your answer it doesn't really matter if you forgot something or remembered everything because the light of love and hope and joy is coming anyway.
THE CHRISTMAS GREETING
Rev. Rali Weaver
First Church and Parish Dedham
670 High Street
12/24/13 6:30 pm.