Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
Psalm 2, 85 (Morning)
Psalm 110:1-5(6-7), 132 (Evening)
1 John 4:7-16
Love Came Down at Christmas
In our church’s calendar of Holy Men and Holy Women, December 25th commemorates not a saint for the day, but “The Nativity of our Lord,” the whole story of Christ’s birth. We hear the birth narratives in Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts, with the angels and the manger, the shepherds and the wise men, the young mother and her carefully attentive husband, but sometimes God blesses us with a whole new telling. Many years ago I was given just such an epiphany.
Graduate school was wearing us down. A trip to my parents’ house promised a healing respite, but John and I both came down with the worse flu we’ve ever had a couple of days before Christmas. The trip was cancelled, and we could only take turns on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day crawling out of bed to fill stockings and celebrate for a few minutes with the children. We didn’t need to feel sorry for them, though, because children sometimes understand that it’s better to give than to receive. On Christmas morning, Kathleen and Niell brought their stockings into our bedroom to open while we watched. Then, as the Christmas packages lay still unopened under the tree, they came back in, costumed in bathrobes and towels, to enact their version of the first Christmas, with foil-wrapped cardboard star, swaddled doll, and wise men’s offerings of a perfume bottle, a jewelry box, and a soap dish.
There it was, the whole story, from the announcement to Mary, through the visit of the Magi, told not by eloquent Gospel writers, but by two heavenly messengers, a girl of 7 and a boy of 3. The sweet old story of God’s gift of love came afresh to us that day, how Jesus was sent to bring God to us, and us to God, told in great and small ways.
Christina Rossetti’s poem, set to music in our hymnal, tells the same story:
“Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas: stars and angels gave the sign.”
May you see or hear something anew this Christmas Day which, as with Mary and with me, you can keep, and ponder in your heart.
Written by Kay DuVal
Kay, a retired teacher with a PhD in English, grew up Southern Baptist, and found her spiritual home in the Episcopal Church, where she has served on the Vestry and on the Seven Hills Board. In 2007, she organized the St. Elizabeth Flower Guild, and, earlier, the Recycling Ministry, which, with dedicated volunteers, has now saved reusable resources from the landfill for fourteen years.