From the Pastor, Dec. 23rd Update
Back in the darkest hours of the Second World War, British poet W.H. Auden, himself a devout Anglican, struggled to square the story of the birth of the Son of God with a world caught in the maelstrom of war. He wrote a Christmas Oratorio entitled “For the Time Being,” which tells the familiar Christmas story from the vantage point of the Twentieth Century.
Near the end of the oratorio, after the baby has been born, the wise men have come and gone, and Herod has committed his atrocities, Auden offers this sobering reflection:
The Light comes into the world.
Our eyes, so used to the darkness, and weary from long searching, shudder and recoil at its brilliance.
Once again as in previous years we have seen the actual Vision
and failed to do more than entertain it as an agreeable Possibility.
But for the time being, here we all are,
Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid’s geometry
And Newton’s mechanics would account for our experience,
And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.
To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.
But the Vision and the Light are hard to bear,
And it is easier to hide our eyes and enclose our hearts
Lest our lives break free from their desolating moorages,
And our Worlds be challenged to rise to the Promise of the Vision, illuminated by the Light-come-into-the-world.
How will we rise to the Promise of the Vision of the One who was the Light-come-into-the-world? How will we be a part of God’s design of a world in which the lion lies down with the lamb, we beat swords into plowshares, and study war no more? How will we go out into our world proclaiming and living the Good News of Jesus that turns the world upside down and makes all things new?
As we gather for Christmas Eve and the Sundays of 2016, may our eyes see the vision anew, and may the Light illumine our paths anew.