The Christ Light Archives - St. Croix Church

Contemporary Icon of the holy family in the rubble of Gaza, sitting in fallen bricks and mortar, buildings fall and burn behind them.

Christmas Eve at SCC

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Contemporary Icon of the holy family in the rubble of Gaza, sitting in fallen bricks and mortar, buildings fall and burn behind them.“If Jesus is to be born today, he would be born in Gaza under the rubble in a sign of solidarity with us… this is what Immanuel means – precisely that he is with us in the midst of our pain and suffering.”

 -Dr. Munther Isaac, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, occupied Palestine

This year, we began our Christmas Eve Services with a minute of silence in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Throughout the service we continued to hold the tragedy happening in Gaza close in our collective consciousness, reciting this liturgy written by Rev. Molly Bolton multiple times: 

A Palestinian boy is born under occupation.

A Palestinian boy is born under the rubble.

His mother walks for miles.

At the end of her journey, she has no place to stay.

Shepherds leave their work to search for signs of life.

Wise Folks squint through missiles to glimpse a star of salvation.

A Palestinian boy is born under occupation.

A Palestinian boy is born under the rubble.

He is the Hope of the World—

For when He is free, we all are free

With each reading, these words fell deeper into our hearts. 

The band played beautiful Christmas carols as well, many rewritten to better reflect the reality of our human condition and the world as it is. The following rendition of ‘O Come All You Faithful’ by Tallessyn Grenfell-Lee, Gary Rand, and Lenora Rand brought me to tears in both services:

O come, all you faithful,

you questioners and doubters

O come now, O come now to Bethlehem.

O come, all you weary,

brokenhearted brave ones

O come now, O come now to Bethlehem. 

O come, all you wanderers,

torn and lonely exiles

O come you, O come you to Bethlehem.

Come and behold now

Love that we’ve awaited.

O come for there is hope here

O come and know God’s peace here 

O come and find the joy in

Christ, child of Love.

Speaking of our human condition and the world as it is – my homily was written in the flurry of a very busy Christmas Eve Sunday. I was still putting the finishing touches on it just minutes before our service began! (Church note: Christmas Eve on a Sunday is quite the feat.) Alas, I leaned into our theme for the season, “Being Human Together” and welcomed my own human limitations this year. And you know what, I think 3 minute homilies could become a thing! 

This one is from my heart. 

A Christmas Eve Homily for St. Croix Church

December 24th, 2023

Well, I spent the last two days wearing an apron I bought myself this Christmas that says “Eat, Drink & Be Merry.” But if I could rewrite it for us I’d want it to say “Eat, Drink & Be Messy.”

Throughout the fall we’ve spent time contemplating what it means to be human together –to be real, authentic, messy, enfleshed, and imperfect people living alongside each other. You could say, we’ve contemplated incarnation together. What does it mean to be human –to become visible– to put on flesh? Taking a cue from The Velveteen Rabbit, we considered how becoming real is a thing that happens to you, and the way that it happens, is by being loved.

But opening ourselves up to Love isn’t always an easy thing to do. Often, this is because our culture and society, academic institutions and churches, peers and family even, have all (intentionally and unintentionally) placed pressure on us to hide who we really are, and asked us to live up to some kind of perfected human ideal. 

At Christmas, in the Christian tradition, we recall the incarnation of God in Jesus of Nazareth – a baby born to a young refugee mother in occupied Bethlehem, in Palestine. This is not a metaphor — into  these conditions exactly, Jesus was born.

This morning, Mark urged us not to miss the real message this Christmas – that we are not waiting for Christ’s arrival at all. It happened already. What we do through Advent, and at Christmas, is remember that Christ is here. Love is here. It is in you

We are strikingly aware that life is full of heartbreaking loss, pain, and suffering. And life is full of beauty, hope, joy, and love, too. Both-and. We can’t be fully human without experiencing it all.

This year especially, I’ve been reminded that when it gets this dark, it is precisely the time to chase after everything that shimmers with a promise of light. It is precisely the time to cling to Love with everything you’ve got. 

So, deck the halls, friends. Bake your favourite Christmas treats. Eat, drink, be messy & merry. Love your people in all their imperfect glory, and celebrate together. 

The world is very dark, it’s true. And the world is full of light, too –of Love incarnate in every child on earth, in me and in you. We will not turn away from the darkness or the suffering. We will not pretend it isn’t there. But we will light candles tonight, and join our voices with people all over the world insisting that there is a light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it. (Jn.1:5) His law is love. His gospel is peace. As Dr. Munther Isaac says, “If Christ is anywhere he is in the rubble of Gaza.” I believe that Christ is in the rubble of our own lives too. And this Christ Light -this Love Within Us- is the Life of the World. (Jn. 1:4)

Blessings on your messy Christmas my friends,


Featured image by Kelly Latimore
You can view Dr. Munther Isaac’s full homily here.

Additional Reading: This is a compelling article from MCC, with helpful action points and additional links.