Hope, Love, Joy, Peace, and Christ: A Sojourn Christmas
A SOJOURN CHRISTMAS
On December 22, 2016 Sojourn Grace Collective met at St. Luke's Cathedral in North Park with lots of children (of course) and incredible music (of course) and loads of coffee (of course) to celebrate Christmas together. Throughout our evening of reflection and celebration, we lit each candle of the advent wreath while a Sojourner read aloud a piece of original writing. Oh how creative are our Sojourners; Jaymie, Olivia, Haley, Abby and Melissa all blessed us so much with their beautiful writing. Below you will find each of the readings included in the 2016 Sojourn Christmas service. Enjoy!
HOPE: by Jaymie Horak
Some say that hope is silent waiting, or suffering through difficult times awaiting future righteousness.
What if hope is here? What if hope is in each other’s eyes, in a mother making her child hot cocoa, or in a nurse’s night shift saving lives?
Or if hope is in the refugees, in taking care of each other, in the eyes of the human in the mirror before us.
We know now, perhaps as people knew two thousand years ago, that hope is not found in the diamond-encrusted fingers of leaders – but in each other.
Oh. Hope. Christmas season. A Savior, a baby. God coming to earth in human form.
Do I even believe this now?
A two thousand year old story that we keep telling in part because it reminds us that there is greatness in the ordinary.
The Divine presented Themself as a baby in a lowly manager, so that we could say “God understands what it means to be among the rubble.”
So let us press on and take care of each other. And we will find hope, create hope, become hope. Let us see hope both in the mirror and in each other.
LOVE: by Olivia Melancon
Love -- so small, it’s wedged inside our bodies. Tucked into mind corners. Stashed in parts of the heart. A little prick that twists up the conscience when we make the world too hard. It doesn’t need any more of bricks that make walls to keep out the good, so love twists. Then, it grows. Traveling over miles of nerves. Lighting up the brain. Flooding eyes full of salt water until choking on it, and breathe, we stumble over the indescribable in speech. Or, filled with power, our mouths scream out how we feel.Until it gives you pause, makes you stand still. Gives you a chance to collect your thoughts back so they are patterned to make your hands soft but your will iron. In love, you are a paradox. Vulnerable and superior all at once. Christmas brings about all that love is, and puts it in the form of a child who lay cold and trembling, so we could be strong. We took that creation piece, so that we could make it over again in every friendship formed, every compassion driven act, and every time our heart breaks for any reason. Every breath we take is a love letter to creation itself, because you, and I, and we, are love.
JOY: by Haley Hohengarten
As elusive as the sunlight in the Pacific Northwest. Yet at the same time as abundant as the sunshine in our finest city. Impossible to define with mere words. But the only way to adequately describe it is with them. Sometimes it lies dormant within us, inside our worries, underneath our pain, waiting patiently for the hands of time to tick along. They always tick along. When those hands pass and open the skies once again I breathe in and stop. It has come but when will it go? I breathe out. The thing is, the THING is, joy is always. Maybe it’s a choice. Maybe it’s not. But it exists wherever and whenever you need it to shine its hopeful and annoyingly optimistic light. It’s the reminder that you are okay even when you are not okay.
It’s much like that burning ball of fire in the sky. It will rise and it will set but it will always return. And when it does, don’t hold your breath.
PEACE: by Abby Wilkins
John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
The sound of slow, quiet breathing
The waves of the ocean
Standing steadily on a balance beam
The sound of the turn of a page
The softness of old paper
The quiet of a library
Silk, rubbing soft against your skin
Singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer says, “The things that have saved us are still here to save us.”
Snuggling someone you love
A crackling fire
A warm mug in your hands
A kiss on the forehead
Someone who holds you while you cry
Sunrays coming through clouds
Making a daisy chain
A butterfly, coming close enough to touch
Lying under a tree and looking up through the leaves
Braiding long hair
The feel of a hug
Peace is a balance between light and dark, happy and sad, warm and cold, fire and water. It’s at the center of a wheel of opposites.
Etty Hillesum, shortly before she died at Auschwitz, wrote: “Ultimately, we have just one moral duty. To reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in our troubled world.”
CHRIST: by Melissa Wilkins
The Cosmic Christ, as described by Father Richard Rohr, is the divine presence that is at work in all creation. The Cosmic Christ is present wherever the material and the spiritual come together, wherever the divine and the human are one.
At Easter we’ll remember the whole pattern of the cross, that looks like death and resurrection, creation and destruction and rebirth—but at Christmas we celebrate just one moment: the birth of Jesus the Christ.
At birth, when a parent and child meet each other face to face for the first time, love bursts into being. Relationship begins.
Scripture gives us a picture of God as a gracious parent and us as beloved children—but Christmas reverses the script. At Christmas, God takes up our part and becomes the child.
At Christmas we see that even the least impressive things about us—our helplessness, our smallness, our neediness—these do not separate us from God. Because Jesus—divine and human—was all those things, too. Jesus was helpless, and small, and needy.
Jesus at Christmas is a forever reminder that we are not alone, that Christ is with us and we are in Christ, always. Divine and human, matter and spirit, together. As one.