Don't Stop

  ​Stop! Stop everything. Now, hold on, just wait a second. Don’t take down the tree. Keep that manger scene right where it is. Keep the party going. Christmas isn’t over. It has only just begun! ​Click. Right at midnight on December 25, the music stopped. Yes, I was awake to hear it. The Christmas music ended. Our wonderful classical music station which has been playing the most luscious music for weeks stopped playing Christmas music because, of course, duh, Christmas was over. Love has come and we’re ready to turn it off. ​I read a sad poem by Sylvia Plath today, about the let down of December 26. And one of the comments reiterated, “well, of course; it’s the day after.” ​It’s true, the gifts under the tree are opened. The wrapping paper is out in the recycling bin.  Kaia received the "Platonic idea" of pants and is soon to go shopping for her real new pants. Annika is breaking in her new boots. The multitude of goats we gave are being given now to families on the far sides of the globe. The first gifts of Christmas have been ooh’ed and aah’ed over and all the cards that arrive from now on will be deemed ‘late.’   ​The fridge is filled with leftovers. The good china has been put away. And some of us had to go back to work. ​But we have only begun to celebrate Christmas. Not only is it a season, and not just a day; Christmas is a life. Life with God-with-us.  Emmanuel. God is with us. And nothing is ever the same. “Sharon was five, sure of herself…” She told her family the Christmas story and with wide eyes, came to the climax, “And do you know who the baby was? The baby was God.” ​The baby was God.   ​The baby was God, the light of the world, and has come to live with us, as us. In the second century, a respected follower of Jesus named Irenaeus said this, and the church has always agreed with him, “He became as we are so that we might become as He is.”   Phew. That’s serious. ​The light has come to shine in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. That is the world we live in. That is the reality we live with. Doesn’t mean there is no more darkness, but there is no more darkness that the light of Jesus’ love can’t make bright. And as Jesus’ people, he has roped us into the bringing of that light. Yep. We’re lightbulbs. ​We are called to be light. And only the first gifts of Christmas have been given this year. God’s Grace Community Church is a gift and will continue to give itself – the love and light of God – throughout this whole year. In Mississippi, at Pine Ridge, at Rock Canyon, on a garbage dump, at a diner in the middle of the night throwing a party for women stuck in prostitution (I really do hope we’re going to do this! I’m in), at the Gathering Place, at Panera, at Arapahoe, in our homes, at Open Door, Confluence, Boone Iowa, and heaven knows where else. ​And that’s just what we do together. There is so much more. You. Me. Being Jesus, bringing Jesus. Giving gifts, bringing light. Being light:  you. ​We all feel the tug of people and concerns that need light. For me, it is Palestine. I’ve known the Bishop of the Lutheran Church there since before he was a bishop and was a guest in our home in 1989. I write my friends at Bethlehem Lutheran Church at this time of year, “next year in Jerusalem.” I want to celebrate with them but in the meantime, they hold a very special place in my heart. I do whatever I can to shine light on them, and, through prayer, bring light into their lives. ​Who is it for you? Family, friends, places near and far. To whom do you want to give, to be the gifts of Jesus’ light and love this Christmas? This year?  Today? Tomorrow?  Keep the Christmas going! It is never actually the day after. So, leave your tree up all year. Okay, not really. ​But don’t stop being light, and maybe listen to some more music that reminds you of this wondrous gift. Joy to the world! The Lord is come. You’re not on your own. “And do you know who the baby was?  The baby was God.”  With us. Us. Jan Erickson-Pearson

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