Dear Santa Claus, St. Nick, Sant Claus, Bishop Nicolas of Myra died AD343 origin of the fable of fables, Story of stories, giver of gifts by stealth, childhood fantasy of dreams and visions, nighttime visitor, time engineer extraordinaire, magical mystery maker, bringer of wishes, keeper of ‘The List’ – Naughty and Nice.
Children wait in their beds half sleeping, half dreaming of satsumas and chocolate coins, (well, now I’m dreaming). Cutting through the darkness, expected to come for nothing less than to fulfil our deepest desires and for a mince pie, sherry and carrot for the reindeer. Did you too get fed this story as a child or were your parents brave enough to tell you the truth? That there is no Christmas unless we make it happen for ourselves. We can blame others this year that they’ve ‘cancelled Christmas’ but no-one cancels it unless we do it to ourselves. So, it’s up to us to be witnesses to the light in the darkest of times. It’s our task again this year to bring to birth the Christ child, the true light that was and is coming into the world.
But all we have is this darkness to work with. The darkness I’m told is an absence of light. Is that all? I must disagree to say into the void that the darkness is so much more. A place of beginning. Of expectation. Of Potential. Of Dreams unborn. Of Waiting. Of Depth. A place to hold the despair into which we cry our tears of mourning and of sorrow for that which pulls at our hearts and leaves us with that gut wrenching emptiness as if there will be no dawning at the end of this long winter night. (Call it 2020 if you like) And into this: Wilderness, exhausted, a voice cries out. One small voice. When we are at our darkest and deepest moments of despair. When we too want to shout into the darkness – and by the way the darkness can take it all, whatever it is we need to shout. When we name our fears, our despairs, our sorrows and expectations, our disappointments and unrealised dreams – when we let the darkness have them all; then we can begin to make it through. We need to go through the pain of being in the darkness to bring to birth the christ.
Advent is not only a time for waiting, but also for preparation. Our task in preparation is creating the space to allow the Christ to come to birth. Among you stands one whom you do not yet know says John the Baptist to those who follow him out into the darkness, into the wilderness, searching for something that will bring healing in a time of desperate pain. This is where it begins. The slow bringing to birth begins in the darkness, in brokenness. John the Baptist points the way to Christ, just as little Saint Nick the boy bishop of Myra did in the 4th century. The darkness is where it begins with the small moments that bring in the light. A moment spent on a doorstep offering a card, a moment on a video singing a song alone that becomes a choir of joy for others. Small moments of beauty and the time taken to stand and watch what unfolds yes, even in the darkness, especially in the darkness. Small moments of time offered, given for others, moments of love and even gifts given in the spirit of St. Nicolas. As we prepare to remember a moment in time, the birth of the baby, the real moment, the birth of the Christ was the moment Mary said her yes and opened her heart to the possibility of what seemed impossible. The idea of God away in the heavens and unreachable would instead come close. Perhaps that’s why John the Baptist points to the crowd and says one among you. There is one among you whom you do not know who embodies the christ and for us too, there can be one among us. It can be each of us, unknown to ourselves this advent, each one of us, if our hearts are open to the possibility of small moments of transformation. Then comes born to us the Christ-mas in the reconciliation of all things.