Under Mary’s Protection

January 1, 2021
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

( I was invited to offer a reflection for my community for the celebration of New Year’s. I wanted to share it with our larger community here.)

Over the threshold of midnight, we step into the New Year 2021.

And, oh, how we have longed for it

  • run toward it 
  • run away from what the old year pressed on us 
  • from what we heard unceasingly referred to as “these unsettling times”

Dear friends the phrase puts it mildly, doesn’t it?

Every one of us- to some degree- has felt the

  • loss 
  • sadness 
  • fear 
  • anxiety 
  • loneliness

We have been tested in our faith

  • our hope 
  • our love 
  • and, surely, our courage

Some have walked through the middle of hell
and some only on the edge.
But we have all felt its fire.

We are a world truly brought to its knees as we clothe ourselves in 2021’s first morning.

We come to our prayer to do as our reading from Numbers encourages us, emboldens us to do – to seek a blessing for the New Year:

May the Lord bless us and keep us 
shine the face of mercy on us 
be gracious to us 
look upon us kindly 
give us peace

But how will we find such a blessing, my friends, when we know that its hope is hidden in the unrelenting circumstances of our lives?

Let’s consider our Gospel today.
Just as Christ lay shining 
but in the damp hay of a dark manger…
Just as the word of his coming was announced 
but by rude shepherds who carried the angelic words,
so the blessing will come to us….clothed in the ordinariness of what we already know.

And it is this:

The power of God is always hidden 
in the flesh of our daily lives.

Let us turn to Mary today to remind ourselves of this mystery.

Before the Annunciation, when young Mary imagined the Messiah’s coming, do you think she pictured a godforsaken manger and a birth in a barn?

Do you think she imagined herself receiving ponderable angelic words through the mouths of illiterate shepherds?

Our inscrutable God comes to us
in ways we never imagine … yes, dear friends, even through pandemic suffering,
and the painful graces
it breaks open in our hearts.

Mary, whom we celebrate and invoke today, shows us how to take the next step into a new year —a year that will not perceptibly change in its challenges for some time to come.

It, too, will be filled with what looks like mangers and shepherds rather than the heavenly palaces and angels we might desire.

But Mary shows us that faith finds God by surrender to the grace of our ordinary lives.

Today, what we pray for one another through Mary’s intercession, is the grace to find the blessing in this mystery.

We pray to be encouraging witnesses for one another of:

  • faith even in darkness
  • resilience and courage during extraordinary challenge
  • hope in the face of discouragement
  • perseverance when we languish
  • loving service despite fear
  • Mercy pouring over pain

When we do these things, we become the blessing that we seek.

When we, like Mary, keep these things in our heart, we allow Christ to be born again even in our “unsettling” times.

Maria de Mercede, fresco by Domenico Ghirlandaio (c. 1472)

The most ancient prayer to Mary is the Sub Tuum Praesidium, dating from the 2nd century. It seems a perfect way to close our reflection today, and to open our hearts to hope for the New Year:

Under your protection,
we take our refuge, 
O Holy Mother of God:
despise not our petitions in our necessities,
but deliver us from all evil,
O pure and blessed one.

A truly blessed and joyful New Year to you all, Beloveds.

Music: Sub Tuum Praesidium in Latin (see above for English)

The Word

The Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas

December 31, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 96, which set the tone for us to more deeply appreciate our beautiful Gospel today on this New Year’s Eve.

The LORD comes,
comes to align the earth in Grace.
The LORD shall tender the world
with merciful justice
and the peoples with divine constancy.

Psalm 96: 13

Who is this Lord Who comes,
comes to each of us and all of us?

I think no one describes this mysterious, yet enfleshed, God more beautifully that the writer of John’s Gospel and Epistles.

For our prayer, let’s savor that beauty from today’s Gospel.

Click the little white triangle in the grey bar above to hear some lovely accompanying music
as you slowly move through the slides below by pressing the right arrow on the slide.

Poetry: a prayer from Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179 – O Eternal Lord 

Dear Friends, perhaps we might pray Hildegard’s prayer for one another as we leave this painful year and move toward New Hope.

O eternal Lord,
it is pleasing to you
to burn in that same fire of love,
like that from which our bodies are born,
and from which you begot your Son
in the first dawn before all of Creation.
So consider this need which falls upon us,
and relieve us of it for the sake of your Son,
and lead us in joyous prosperity.

Praying with Anna

December 30, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, since our Responsorial is again Psalm 96, let’s pray with Anna the Prophetess from today’s Gospel.

We have so much to learn from Anna,
a woman completely wrapped in mystery
until she bursts through these verses
in the brilliance of prophecy!


  • advanced in years – yet still vitally engaged in the search for God
  • widowed early – then giving the long, solitary years to a Messianic Hope
  • a faster and a prayer – witnessing the fruitfulness of a contemplative life

Even in today’s brief Gospel appearance, Anna calls us to spiritual depths by her

  • Steely fidelity 
  • Pregnant solitude
  • Eternal hope
  • Quiet intimacy with God

Anna spent decades, waiting in her own “Cloud of Unknowing”. In the miraculous inverse of the spiritual life, her shadows were filled with Light.

When you first begin, you find only darkness, and as it were a cloud of unknowing. You don’t know what this means except that in your will you feel a simple steadfast intention reaching out towards God. Do what you will, and this darkness and this cloud remain between you and God… Reconcile yourself to wait in this darkness as long as is necessary, but still go on longing after him whom you love.

from “The Cloud of Unknowing”

In today’s Gospel, we meet Anna, a First Witness, stepping out of the deepened shadows and sharing her long-nurtured Light:

And coming forward at that very time,
Anna gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

Luke 2:38

In our prayer today,
let’s listen to what Anna might reveal to us.

Reflective Prose: from The Cloud of Unknowing, an anonymous 14th century work on mysticism and prayer.

The nature of love 
is that it shares everything. 
Love Jesus, and everything he has is yours.
…He may, perhaps, 
send out a shaft of spiritual light, 
which pierces this cloud of unknowing beteween you, 
and show you some of his secrets… 
then will you feel your affection flame 
with the fire of his love, 
far more than I could possibly describe…

In place of music today: Anna the Prophetess by Leddy Hammock and Sue K. Riley

Now, in this moment I close my outer eyes 
and look within with my inner eyes.
I see a vision of wonder,
for I am the daughter of the vision of God,
of the tribe of the blessed ones,
a soul under grace.
I judge not by appearances.
I believe in God’s promises.
I fast from shadows and I live on light.

From my youth, I have served at the temple,
a vessel to a holy purpose.
Prayer is the temple where I dwell
Here I behold the image of the Lord.
I close my eyes and behold that image,
the eyes of the Infinite beholding me
all through the ages,
so tenderly gazing with love and compassion,
enfolding me.

Prayer is the temple where I dwell.
Here, I behold the image of the Lord.
The thoughts held in mind 
are mirrored in kind all around me,
reflecting through all that I see.
Now, I behold with inner vision
the wonders that will be in the fullness of time.

The dreams of all my days and nights
are incensed in the inner sanctum.
My thoughts of truth are flowers on the altar of light.
In the presence of the Holy of Holies,
I keep the high watch.
Gifted with the inner sight,
I see beyond the present.

I am an old, old soul, yet ageless in eternity.
Though outer eyes may seem to dim with time,
the inner eyes are crystal clear.
Though outer vision may seem obscured by time and place,

or clouded by the sorrows and the slavery of sense,
another world’s revealed so clear.
And what I see will be.
My thoughts are giving form,
And held in mind, shall reproduce in kind.

O Lord, I take a long loving look at the real.
I prophesy.
Christ is here.
I have seen the Lord, Thine image, 
and held that image to my own heart.
I am the Spirit of Imagination.
I am Anna, the prophetess, woman of power.

Psalm 96: Let the Whole Earth Sing

The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

December 29, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 96, an exuberant song of praise and an imperative to radical hope.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless the Holy Name.

In the scriptures, hope is both a spiritual and political act. Hope stands up in the midst of pressing contradictions and declares, “God is with us. We give praise because of this conviction”.

Walter Brueggemann defines these elements in true praise:

  • First, praise is an act of imagination, not description. It sees the world through the lens of faith and dares to line out a world engaged in dialogical transactions between Creator and Creation.
  • Second, hymns of praise are acts of devotion with political and polemical overtones. Their work is to engage in “world making.” The very act of praise itself envisions a new world, a different world, a world alternative to the one in front of us.
  • Third, the Psalms voice and are embedded in a larger narrative in which YHWH (God) is the key character and lively agent.
  • Fourth, doxology (praise) is the exuberant abandonment of self over to God. In singing praise, all claims for the self are given up as the self is ceded over to God.
  • And fifth, such songs do not passively accommodate to an economic, political, and psychological status quo. They run the risks of being disruptive for the sake of another world 

—- a “Christed” world in which God is intimately engaged with our lives.

Thus we can rejoice in the closing verses of this dynamic psalm:

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;g
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them.
Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice
before the LORD who comes,
who comes to govern the earth,
To govern the world with justice
and the peoples with faithfulness.

Psalm 96: 12-14

As the new week unfolds, and we move lingeringly away from Christmas comforts, we may forget what we have just commemorated…

Emmanuel- God With Us

As we re-enter a world still in frightening shadows, we must believe in the Light. As we slowly re-robe in the clothing of our daily responsibilities, we must not forget the Garment of Salvation we have just celebrated and received. 

Our Psalm calls us to be a daily witness to the Love we have been given:

Announce the Lord’s salvation, day after day.
Tell the Lord’s glory among the nations;
among all peoples, God’s wondrous deeds.

Psalm 96:2-3

Poetry: Hope by Philip Booth

Old spirit, in and beyond me,
keep and extend me. Amid strangers
friends, great trees and big seas breaking,
let love move me. Let me hear the whole music,
see clear, reach deep. Open me to find due words,
that I may shape them to ploughshares of my own making.
After such luck, however late, give me to give to
the oldest dance… Then to good sleep,
and - if it happens - glad waking.

Music: Sing a New Song – J.P. Putnam, sung here by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

I wanna sing a new song
Shout it out louder than before
Let the whole earth sing
The whole earth sing
Yeah yeah

There is a place
We can seek his face
Changed in his presence
Touched by his grace

There is a sound
I hear it all around
Worship is rising
And people crying out

I wanna sing a new song
Shout it out louder than before
Let the whole earth sing
The whole earth sing

It's a song of praise
A song for all of the redeem
Let the whole earth sing
The whole earth sing

Never the same
He's taken my chains
There's freedom in Jesus
Power to save
There is a name
Like no other name (like no other name)
There's freedom in Jesus

(Come on, let's shout it)
Shout out his name
I wanna sing a new song
Shout it out louder than before
Let the whole earth sing
The whole earth sing
It's a song of praise
A song for all of the redeemed

Let the whole earth sing
The whole earth sing
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I wanna sing a new song
Shout it out louder than before
Let the whole earth sing
The whole earth sing
It's a song of praise
A song for all of the redeem

Let the whole earth sing
The whole earth sing
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Oh yes, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah say
(Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah)

One more time sing
(Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah)
Somebody say God, you're glorious
(God, you are glorious)
God, you are glorious
(God, you are glorious)

Psalm 124: Care! Be “Snare-Breakers”

Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs

December 28, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, remembering the Holy Innocents, we pray with Psalm 124.

Had not the LORD been with us—
When they rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive,
When their fury was inflamed against us.

Psalm 124: 2-3

The story of the Holy Innocents is shocking and gruesome. It is almost unbelievable— but for the fact that history has confirmed the capacity for perfidy in human hearts.

Herod’s consuming hunger for power swallowed everything in its path. And that kind of outrageous hunger has been replicated down through the ages in wars, genocides, slavery, mass incarcerations —- every manipulation of the vulnerable for the sake of the powerful.

These abominations would not be possible without the dehumanization of the other. This is the intrinsic atrocity of the massacre of the Holy Innocents. And it continues to be the core sin tempting every soul – to advance myself, apathetic to the cost of another.

We pray today for all in the human family overwhelmed and swept into desperation by the forces of cruel indifference:

Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
over us then would have swept the raging waters.

Psalm 124: 4-5

We pray for the grace to become ever more just and merciful in our own choices; to be, in the name of the Lord, snare breakers for our sisters and brothers

Broken was the snare,
and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 124: 7-8

Poetry: As Kingfishers Catch Fire – Gerard Manley Hopkins 

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

Music: Salvete Flores Martyrum from Quicumque Christum Quærtis

This hymn is a cento from the twelfth and last poem in the Cathemerinon of Prudentius, and in its full form it contains 208 lines. First line of complete hymn: Quicumque Christum quaeritis. Four beautiful centos from this hymn were included in the Breviary by Pius V (1568)

The earliest and most beautiful cento is the Salvete flores martyrum, which is found in the St. Gall manuscript, No. 413, of the 11th century, in a 12th century manuscript in the British Museum

Salvete Flores Martyrum

Salvete flores Martyrum
Quo lucis ipso in limine
Christi in secutur sustulit
Ceu turbo nascentes rosas.
Vos prima Christi victima
Grex immolatorum tener
Aram ante ipsam simplices
Palma et coronatis luditis.
Jesu tibi sit Gloria
Qui natus es de Virgine
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu
In sempiterna saecula

All hail, ye little Martyr flowers,
Sweet rosebuds cut in dawning hours!
When Herod sought the Christ to find
Ye fell as bloom before the wind.
First victims of the Martyr bands,
With crowns and palms in tender hands,
Around the very altar, gay
And innocent, ye seem to play.
All honour, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born to Thee;
All glory, as is ever meet
To Father and to Paraclete.

Psalm 128: Pray It with the Holy Family

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

December 27, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, we pray with Psalm 128.

Blessed is everyone who lives in awe of the LORD,
who walks in God’s ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.

Throughout Christmas Day, I spent much time realizing and thanking God for how blessed I am by my family, and by my extended families.

It can be a great blessing to grow old in one’s family. I now claim the matriarchy within my own. 

I am the oldest, the only one to have known all my bloodline as babies. I can even reminisce over all my young in-laws with codgy phrases that claim my elder experience. 

I try to make that elderhood a blessing to them by my prayers and unconditional love, and by carrying to them the tremendous devotion with which my parents and grandparents long ago blessed this family.

But so many times, it is I who am blessed by these “youngsters”. 

On Christmas, through digital miracles like FaceTime, I could watch my younger and only brother and sister-in-law continue our family benediction over their grown children and young grandchildren.

I saw my millennial nieces and nephews pour that long-rooted caring over the next “grand” generation, their own beautiful children.

The caretaking of such a legacy is never automatic or guaranteed in a family. It requires the intentional choice of a maturing love and a deliberate generosity in each member as they grow in responsibility. It demands engagement, trust, and – at times – forgiveness and reconciliation.

Such a heritage thrives where each member provides their degree of mutual example, encouragement and support for the whole family. I think of Peg, my aunt by marriage not blood. I knew she loved and nurtured me and my brother with the same vigor that she loved her own children. That’s the kind of power that holds a family together over generations.

No family is perfect. We need to step in for each other sometimes. Sometimes, we need to call each other to our best selves. 

The Holy Family helps us through those times. They had their trials: unexpected pregnancy, town gossip, refugee status, widowhood, and a son arrested and executed by the government – just to cite the challenges we know of. Yet they model for us the grace-generating love God has for us as a human family.

As we deepen in years and grace, we learn that “family” can be defined by more than blood. In fact, it must be. And the greater our hearts, the wider our sense of family will be – until we might be fully enriched to realize that every person is our brother or sister.

As we pray and strive to learn from the Holy Family, may we be blessed according to Psalm 128:

Behold, thus are we blessed
who live in awe the LORD.
The LORD bless us from on high:
may we see grace and well-being
together, all the days of our lives.

Poetry: Family Court- Ogden Nash, whose light verse always had a point to it 😉

One would be in less danger 
From the wiles of a stranger 
If one's own kin and kith 
Were more fun to be with.

Reading with Music:

Psalm 31: Soak in the Graces

Feast of Saint Stephen, first martyr

December 26, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as we celebrate the Feast of St. Stephen, we pray with Psalm 31.

The Stoning of St. Stephen – Giovanni Lucini

Even while the gentle lights of Christmas linger, the Church reminds us that life in Christ requires a complete self-donation. Like Stephen, we pray to embrace that cost with courage and faith:

Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy.

Psalm 31: 6-8

Liturgically, we will be in the Christmas and Epiphany Season until January 10th. We have plenty of time to soak up the heavenly lights and the angelic songs as we slowly step back into an often shadowy world.

And I think the Church puts Stephen’s martyrdom so starkly at this juncture to remind us to SOAK – to fill our tanks with Christmas grace so that we are ready to accompany Christ in his ministry.

Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me.

Psalm 31: 3-4
Nativity with San Lorenzo and San Francesco – Caravaggio

While your crèche is still enshrined in your home, take a morning to kneel beside Mary. Ask to learn her secrets for living fully in Christ. 

  • Do the same one morning with Joseph. Learn from his silent strength.
  • Learn from the shepherds who received astounding revelation with simple, unquestioning faith.
  • Learn from the animals who stand pure and guileless in the presence of God.
  • Ask to be ready, like Stephen, to give everything for what you learn.

I trust in you, LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My destiny is in your hands;
rescue me from any darkness,
from all pulls me away from you.
Let your face shine on your me
embrace me completely in your mercy.

Psalm 31: 16-17

Poem: THE STABLE by Sr. M. Chrysostom, O.S.B.

The winds were scornful,
Passing by;
And gathering Angels 
Wondered why
A burdened Mother 
Did not mind 
That only animals 
Were kind.
For who in all the world 
Could guess 
That God would search out 

Music: Martyr Dei ( Martyr of God)

Martyr Dei, qui (quæ) unicum
Patris sequendo Filium,
victis triumphas hostibus,
victor (victrix) fruens cælestibus.
Tui precatus munere
nostrum reatum dilue,
arcens mali contagium,
vitæ repellens tædium.
Soluta sunt iam vincula
tui sacrati corporis;
nos solve vinclis sæculi,
amore Filii Dei.
Honor Patri cum Filio
et Spiritu Paraclito,
qui te corona perpeti
cingunt in aula gloriæ.

Martyr of God, whose strength was steeled
To follow close God’s only Son,
Well didst thou brave thy battlefield,
And well thy heavenly bliss was won!
Now join thy prayers with ours, who pray
That God may pardon us and bless;
For prayer keeps evil’s plague away,
And draws from life its weariness.
Long, long ago, were loosed the chains
That held thy body once in thrall;
For us how many a bond remains!
O Love of God release us all.
All praise to God the Father be,
All praise to Thee, eternal Son;
All praise, O Holy Spirit, to Thee
While never ending ages run.

Christmas 2020: The Hope We Long For

Hodie Christus natus est
Christ is born today

The miracle of Christmas lies in this Latin word, “hodie” – TODAY!

The Divine Immediacy of it!
The Eternal Regeneration of it! 
The Omnipotent Presence of it!
Hodie – Today!  Now!

Christ is born in this moment, in this effort, this thought, this choice, this breath of my life.

As this Christmas morning dawns, indeed we commemorate an historical event that has redirected history toward Grace. But hidden in that sacred observance is the deep mystery of what we truly celebrate.

The birth of Christ, Eternal Love, is not contained by time. Every breaking moment bears Christ to the world. As history rolls on beneath this mystery, every generation – every human being – becomes the agent of His birth.

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

Christ was born in Bethlehem, and we rejoice.

But Christ is born in me – today, and today, and today. And we are awe-struck by Eternal Love.

I open my heart in humility, readiness and worship for Emmanuel’s Presence in my life.

This is the “Christus Moment”, where those passing vagaries of time which conspire to break our hearts, to break our lives, to break our world, are rendered soulless.

This is the moment when death is eviscerated, sin erased, division healed, brokenness  soothed, and hope blazingly restored. This is the “Hodie Moment” of Christ’s eternal birth in my heart, in our Church, in our world.

As we listen to the glorious chant of Christmas morning, “Christus Natus Est”, may we let our lives proclaim its transforming melody by:

  • every peaceful word we speak
  • every forgiving glance
  • every courageous stretch to hope
  • every grateful generosity

May Christ be born in us today

  • by our active love for Him in suffering humanity
  • by the vigor of our merciful justice
  • by our steady dismantling of selfishness to allow Him the fullness of glory

May Mary, who carried Jesus to life, teach us and guide us to be Bearers of Christ today – “hodie” – and every day.

Music: Hodie Christus Natus Est
Merry Christmas and God’s blessings to all of you and your loved ones!

Hodie Christus natus est 
hodie Salvator apparuit: 
hodie in terra canunt Angeli, 
laetantur Archangeli: 
hodie exsultant justi, dicentes: 
Gloria in excelsis Deo, alleluja.

Today is Christ born; 
today the Savior has appeared; 
today the Angels sing, 
the Archangels rejoice; 
today the righteous rejoice, saying: 
Glory to God in the highest.  Alleluia!

Antiphon: O Radiant Dawn

Christmas Eve – 2020

Today, God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray a prayer full of beautiful, hopeful images. Let us savor them slowly as we make our way to the waiting manger:

O Morning Star,
splendor of Light Eternal
and Sun of Righteousness:
Come and enlighten those
who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.

O Radiant Dawn,
it is Christmas Eve.
We see the hint of your dawning
along the dark horizon
of our limitations.

How we long for You
to fracture time,
our fragile eggshell,
Eternal Love flowing
across our weary hearts.

O Dayspring,
let us see beyond the darkness,
beyond fear,
and selfish calculations,
beyond doubt, despair, hatred,
even death…
…to know that, in You,
everything is Light
for those who trust
Your Rising.

We await your
Christmas Morning
in our world.
Maranatha!  Come, Lord, Jesus!

Your Once in a Lifetime Christmas

December 23, 2020
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Dear Friends,
A diversion from our Psalms for today… 
Praying with this verse from today’s first reading,
a reflection rose in my spirit that I would like to share with you all.

None of us ever again wants a Christmas like this.
But pause to want this one enough to receive its blessings.

And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek.

I hear the soft rumble, like thunder, 
of Christmas approaching 
– struck by the awareness 
that we have never shared 
a Christmas 
such as this.

Oh Beloveds, in our fear, frustration, 
loneliness and loss,
let us not lose this moment
when Christ comes to us 
as Christ has never come before.

Out of the darkness,
out of loss,
out of separation,
out of helplessness,
out of pandemic
still Christ comes…

with a message
maybe lost in former, 
more comfortable years…
carried to us, now,
on a “star” not seen in 800 years.

The message?

I am Love.
I am Life.
I  am Wholeness.
I am Forever.
And I am Emmanuel

Fear Not.
I shine.
And I will lead you 
to my heart.

But you must seek me
in the secret 
of this unparalleled time.

There is a most vulnerable place
in your depth.
These times have laid it bare.

Invite me there.
Seek me there.

It is the temple
where I want to come to you
this Christmas.

Poetry: The Coming of Light – Mark Strand

The Coming of Light
Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.

Music: Seek the Lord – Roc O’Connor