St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Wednesday, January 4, 2022
As Christmas comes toward its end: Some ancient words to make you glad
It’s already the tenth day of Christmas. I hope it has been a happy celebration for you and for those you love. For sure, it hasn’t been perfect. Our lives never are. Neither are our celebrations.
Last Saturday, I completely forgot to bake the bread for Eucharist. Trying to think of SOMEthing to do when I got up on Sunday, I remembered the package of crescent roll dough in the refrigerator and decided to try to fashion it into a round loaf. It actually worked. There was no crisis, only an opportunity to use my imagination (and desperation!) to figure out something that would work!
This week in the midst of our festivities at home, Olivia came down with strep throat, and this morning Elijah was diagnosed with Flu B, meaning that he has to stay home from school and everything else until January 10 – a very unhappy state of affairs for him.
And the chaos in Congress this week doesn’t exactly make our final days of Christmastide especially happy, either.
But the truth remains. Emmanuel. God IS with us. And everything else is simply fodder for fresh creativity, for courage and hope, or for making a memory that will make a story to tell next year.
Ancient words, ever new part of a homily preached by Basil the Great, bishop of Caesarea, on Christmas, in the year 379.
God on earth! God among us! God in the flesh! It is no longer the God who acts only at particular instants, as in the prophets, but one who completely assumes our humanity, and through our flesh, lifts humanity up to him…
Look deeply into this mystery. God comes in the flesh in order to destroy the death concealed in the flesh. In the same way as remedies and medications triumph over the factors of corruption when they are assimilated into the body, and in the same way as the darkness which reigns in a house is dispelled by the entry of light, so death, which held human nature in its power, was annihilated by the coming of God. In the same ways as ice, when in water, prevails over the liquid element as long as it is night, and darkness covers everything, but is dissolved when the sun comes up under the warmth of its rays; so death reigned till the sun of justice rose, death is swallowed up in victory, being unable to endure the sojourn of the true Life among us.
O, the depth of the goodness of God, and of his love for all of us!
Let us give glory to God with the shepherds, let us dance in choir with the angels, for “this day a Savior has been born to us, the Messiah and Lord.” He is the Lord who has appeared to us, not in his divine form, in order not to terrify us in our weakness, but in the form of a servant, that he might set free what has been reduced to servitude.
Who could be so fainthearted and so ungrateful as not to rejoice and exult in gladness for what is taking place? It is a festival that is common to all creation! Let us, too, shout for joy; let us give to our festival the name of Theophany. Let us celebrate the salvation of the world, the day when humanity was born. Today Adam’s condemnation has been lifted. We shall no longer say, “You are dust and to dust you shall return.,” but, “United to him who is in heaven, you shall be lifted up forever.”
(Homily for the birth of Christ, page 42-3 in Readings for the Daily Office from the Early Church compiled by F. Robert Wright.)