A new friend was just telling me how her Christmas memories are not so great. With a history of family division and tensions, unmet expectations and loss, she was not anticipating much of this season. The warm feelings that come up for some people this time of year are not true for everyone. I told her that is a great reason to come to Circle of Hope’s candle lit Christmas Eve vigil. We come to watch and wait together in the last moments up to the birth of Jesus—not because we all have warm, happy feelings about Christmas Eve, but because we all know about division and tension, unmet expectations and loss. We aren’t glossing over that! We have spent a whole Advent season waiting for the coming of the One who meets us in the midst of destruction, isolation, poverty, and even death. Our fragile faith gets assailed by these fierce winds every day. We come together to take shelter from the winds around a subversive baby Savior who knows the cold sting of our struggle because he entered right into it with us.
I was telling Julie how my family didn’t have much in the way of Christmas Eve traditions. I recalled the first time I marked Christmas Eve here in Philadelphia and how meaningful it felt to be with the family that is Circle of Hope. I was pretty skeptical of this observance ever having much meaning for me because I was so new to this type of thing. It did, though. I realized that the traditions that we take part in helped me to finally feel the season in a meaningful way. It was something beyond just the gift exchanges and got to the level of us sharing ourselves and the gift of faith born in community. We don’t know how it happens but every time we gather together as followers of Jesus, we embody Jesus’ mission to subvert the powers that are constantly threatening to divide us. In a community of faith, we have something to look forward to besides the demands of the season and can rest in the reality of being adopted as part of God’s family.
Come light a candle
Regardless of past experiences of Christmas Eve, this year is chance to find a calm in the storm, a respite from the fierce winds that threaten our faith. Come light a candle, hear stories and sing songs of hope. We are not alone. We are not powerless to face the wind. Our Savior is God with us and he brings light into the darkness.
Circle of Hope
1125 S. Broad St.