Those of you who know me are aware that I have certain theological heroes, thinkers I admire who have taught me how to talk about the experience of the divine. In my homily last week, I referred to the Jesuit Karl Rahner, who helped me understand the great cost to Jesus in becoming one of us “Didn’t you nail yourself to the cross of creation, when you took, as your own life, something which you had drawn out of nothing, when you assumed, as your very own, the darkness you had previously spread out in the eternal distance as the back ground to your own inaccessible light?” (“The God who is to Come” in THE ETERNAL SILENCE).
One of my other theological mentors was John Shea, who himself did a dissertation on the Baptist theologian Langdon Gilkey, a thinker who also influenced me before I ever heard of Shea. It is Shea who taught me the importance of storytelling, of narrative. It is the stories we tell about ourselves that shape our understanding of who we are. It is the Christian story from creation to the second coming that grounds who we are as followers of Jesus. Stories give us light, they are revelatory.
Christmas is the story of light coming into our world. That light not only reveals the depth of God’s unconditional love for each of us, but it also shows us how life can be lived in a way that itself, makes light available to others. Maybe that is why Christmas lights mean so much to me. They remind me that at a time when the world was in darkness, The WORD emptied himself of privilege and glory, stooping down to become one of us in all our brokenness and confusion. Jesus himself had to struggle to understand what the Father wanted of him. He had to experience rejection, being misunderstood. He knew hunger, pain, failure, betrayal and through it all he never stopped loving His Father and each of us. It is this light we celebrate at Christmas.
Now, from the sublime to the practical. I am looking for a volunteer, maybe a graphic designer, who could do a drawing for us of what the front of the Church will look like when we redo the front steps. We will be replacing the cracked sidewalk and installing a section of memorial bricks and new shrubbery. The project will also include a handicapped access on the South Side of Church.