After writing Christmas letters for almost a half century, I am compelled to continue communicating with anyone who will listen, that Christmas is the greatest proof of the existence of God that we have in this world. Last week we attended a live stage play of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” It was maybe the 25th time I watched “A Christmas Carol” since I was in the fifth grade at Oliver Hazzard Perry School in South Boston, MA at the age of 9, in1938
At 9 I had gotten over a long time ago my belief in the existence of Santa Claus. I was too young to question the existence of God at that time, and watching “A Christmas Carol” being played by my fifth grade classmates, I somehow knew that only someone as powerful as God could turn a miserly Scrooge into a giver of Christmas gooses. The ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future were wonderful stand-ins for the God behind Bethlehem.
And now in this year of climate collapse, and millions of infections and deaths from covid, thousands of gun wounds and deaths, drought and fires, and earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and the “Divided States of America”, where is that God who turned over Scrooge’s hardened heart?
“Silent night, Holy night, All is calm, all is bright” and the streets and homes, and stores and skyscrapers are lit with the multicolored energy of the universe. Why?
Only you can look for the answer to that question.
I found one answer last week during a zoom meditation on famous paintings of the Nativity. The one that struck me was on the Annunciation by Roscoe Tanner (1898), from the Phila. Museum of Art. It showed Mary as a 16 year old sitting up in bed while the angel, as a blinding pillar of light, appears to her. “ Thou shalt conceive.” What is Mary thinking?
I like to think Mary is a Jewish girl of deep faith who has experienced God in her own heart, and now hears that God chooses to take flesh in her and bring Peace to Men of Good Will. Men (and women) of Good Will, please listen.
Merry Christmas and a Happier New Year than this one.