CHRISTMAS CAN CHANGE US THIS YEAR by Rector Chris Girata
CHRISTMAS CAN CHANGE US THIS YEAR was published in the Katy Trail Weekly, "The Good Word" Column, December 4, 2020
Chris Girata is the Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas, TX.
I have a sensitive topic for today’s column, one that might not feel so good at first, but I ask that you hang with me and see if we can find a bit of truth together. For far too long, our culture has been riding a wave of “holiday spirit.” Occasionally, people will talk about war on Christmas as some kind of existential threat to people of faith. But if we’re honest, the “war” that might motivate some is expressing a problem we all share. Christmas is a critically important season for our economy, but it was never meant to be. Christmas was meant to be an invitation to a deeper way of being.
Christmas roots itself in what church people like me term the incarnation. It’s the moment when we believe that God did something incredibly unique — the miracle of all miracles — by redefining true love. True love is never forced and never coerced, but rather given freely with the hope of reciprocation. At Christmas, God’s love was poured out to each of us, whether we believe or not, and we have the choice to respond.
Christmas was meant to be an invitation to a deeper way of being.
The hopefulness we feel when we see the beautiful decorations is a hope for a future that is better than today. This year, that hope is so much more tangible than it has been in recent years. The warm feeling of Christmas is often only skin deep, but this year, we have an opportunity to go much deeper.
Consider how many people are sick. Consider how many people have died and how many people have lost a loved one. We have been culturally traumatized by this year of pain. We are all grieving in our own unique ways, but we are grieving together.
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a pioneer in death and dying research, once wrote, “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will never ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” This pain is changing us, and what is horrible can be turned into something truly beautiful.
When we accept the opportunity to love with abundance, we will be changed for good.
We need to be changed. We are, as a society, in need of real change to put us on a better path. In so many deep ways, we have lost the sense of responsibility to one another. We have lost the desire to care for all people, not just those who share our beliefs or opinions. We have, together, lost the profound gift of love that Christmas represents.
Perhaps more than ever before, Christmas can change us for the better. If we have the courage to own our grief and own our loss, we can collectively heal in ways that encourage deeper, truer love. The love we can share through our grief is love that is first shared with us through God’s grace. If you want to respond to that amazing grace by loving in new, deeper ways, I encourage you to seek and find organizations looking to help our most vulnerable neighbors. Grab hold of the Christmas spirit and find a deeper well of hope in giving more than you expect to receive. When we accept the opportunity to love with abundance, we will be changed for good.
"The Good Word" Column is published bi-weekly, and can be picked up at the Saint Michael South Entrance.
Tags: Blog & Newsroom