Twilight Twitches

fetscherDear Family,
Handel's melody bounces around my mind and my heart. His 1741 oratorio, The Messiah, follows the liturgical year, so Advent shapes Part I and that's where we hear Isaiah's prophetic words, in 9:5, for unto us a child is born.

If you take the time to go and read Isaiah 9 you realize that the expectation of a messiah comes in the midst of war and struggles among the tribes of Israel. That's where the composer of the word¬book of the oratorio, Charles Jennens, found the inspiration to envision the messiah who emerges to bring light. Isaiah 9 begins, "A people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." It is to these people in darkness, to us, that the child is given.

Don't ask me why, but I really got caught up in thinking about the idea that Isaiah did not say, "unto you," or "to them," but he said, "to US."

It didn't take much for me to jump from the pre-exile war-tossed fields of Israel, to the conflict-ridden atmospheres of 2018, not only in our own country, but in so many places in the world.

How hard it is to hear the small still voice of the tiny child amidst the rivalries and conflicts of sects and ideologies fighting to be first.

And yet... -- For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.

"Us" in some fashion or another means that we are all in this together, like it or not. Personally, I would prefer to have you all along for the ride be-cause I don't weather storms very well by myself. Nor, I suspect, do you.
 
Some might be tempted to say that we delude ourselves when we gather around the crib in a spirit of hope and expectation. Cynicism surely is a sand trap in the game of life... double bogeys every time. Give me the eagle of hope. (And I don't even play golf.)

Our very serious faith takes us far beyond the superficial warm fuzzies of a commercialized Christmas to the picture of a poor couple, strapped by circumstances to give birth to a child in miserable conditions. We try to clean it up with fresh hay, but maybe we are allowed to do that because in the last analysis Jesus has really done the major clean-up by coming to our broken human condition in the first place.

We celebrate "We." We celebrate "US." "Unto US..." and that's the good news of a child's birth the world needs to see, through us.

What gifts are you giving? Gifts are good when they remind us of the gift we have received. Every gift I give is going to be accompanied by a prayer that says, "Jesus, thank you for the great gift you gave me of yourself. Please help me reflect that generosity in the gifts I give."

The Christmas card of the parish staff and volunteers tried to convey the hope that the journey we are all on together will bring us home... a home of peace, a home of confident mutual support, a home of people called out of darkness into light.

(The home is also a lot cleaner thanks to gift of the Men's Club. Special thanks to Frank Krauser and Bob Romano for sticking around during the "Great Clean-Up of 2018.")

May the child who opened his swaddled arms to receive the cross of our sins, bless US.

In Him,
sign frjim

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