Dear Members and Friends of Gloria Dei,
The Countdown bar on our church website is telling me there are just two days 5 hours, 2 minutes and 4 seconds left until our Christmas Eve Service goes livestream. The countdown feature both builds and reflects our anticipation that indeed, Christmas is almost here. For many of us it is the joyful anticipation of gathering with family around a festive Christmas dinner. For some of us, our anticipation is tinged with sadness that loved ones will be missing at the table. But nevertheless, whether our Christmas celebrations will be picture perfect or in some way feel incomplete, we will celebrate the Christ who comes weaving threads of the divine into the fabric of our lives.
This year's Candlelight Service will be our first in-person Christmas Eve worship since 2019. Although we are grateful for the marvels of the digital world, we humans need more that what digital technology can provide. As David Sax writes in his book, The Future Is Analog: How to Create a More Human World, truly soulful moments are embodied three dimensional experiences: "When you ask people about the most meaningful things, it’s always those analog experiences with nature, people, and spirituality." The Incarnation respects this aspect of our humanity. God did not simply project a digital image of God's love across the heavens. Digital communication is not the same as taking up space in the three-dimensional reality of our world - in a manger of wood filled with straw on a cold winter's night.
My prayer this Christmas is that many of us will learn this lesson of the incarnation and respect our own humanity -- our need for embodied experiences of worship in real time. I am joyfully anticipating the miracle that happens when two or more people gather and make sounds of prayer and praise with their mouths, connect with their eyes and move their bodies across space and time to gather at a table of abundance to receive the bread of life and the cup of salvation.
In the midst of the pain and suffering of this world--the genocidal war in Ukraine, the violence and repressions of religious dictatorships in Iran and Afghanistan, the plight of the Palestinian people and multitudes of other people displaced by war and violence--we need to gather in real time, and proclaim our hope and make our declaration by the light of flickering candles: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it."
Wishing you and your families a Blessed Christmas and joy and peace in the New Year.