In the Meantime
Here it is barely a week before Christmas Eve and what I am doing? Listening to lots of Beethoven. It is 250th birthday, and this year
was supposed to be full of Ludwig performances. But Covid…. Long ago, when I was in high school, I got bitten by the classical music
bug and asked my folks if I could subscribe to the Deutsche Grammophon 200th Anniversary collection, ten volumes of slip cased LPs, five per
volume, plus a big biographical book. What a delight they were, and still are. While I have given away some of my vinyl I kept these. Some have never been played, like the many folk song settings.
While my life has been ministry, my love has been music. And Beethoven was my first true musical love. Though I shall never be a great performer, there have been days at the piano when I managed some passable stretches of the Waldstein or the Aflat sonatas and more. The joy they gave me, to feel them under my fingers as well as hear them in my ears. For a moment it was as though Beethoven were alive in me. Is it any wonder that back in 2000, when I made my first visit to Vienna, visiting the Beethovenhaus, I was barely able to restrain my tears listening to his music in the room where he created it.
What has this to do with Christmas? Not much, except that the gift my parents gave me so many years ago continues to give. The underlying message of the Nativity story is one of a gift. Not that of the magi, but of the child. And not just his theological meaning, but simply his being a child. My children are a gift that has never stopped giving. The great Sophia Lyon Fahs transformed UU religious education just as I was growing up in it. One of the readings in the gray hymnbook is hers, saying, “Each night a child is born is a holy night.” If as Carl Sandburg wrote, “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on,” then every child is a savior.
That’s what I hope for you this Christmas, the ordinary miracle of a child. All those miracles and fables are just ways to express the inexpressible feeling parents have when a child awaited arrives. It is a moment when the future is clearly worth living for. With so many in our nation afraid of the future, this Christmas should remind us every child makes the world worth saving.
A word about Christmas Eve. We still hope – HOPE – to include up to 30 worshipers at our 5 pm Christmas Eve service, which will be held on the portico. This depends on the advice of the Covid team which is meeting this week, but also on the weather. If we cancel the ability to be present in person we will do so on December 23rd at the latest. Those coming must be scrupulous about observing recommended guidelines including masks and distancing. We will separate family units by at least 8 feet. There is still room to attend, so email me to secure your place.(firstname.lastname@example.org) And because it will be a virtual service for most, bring your tablet or phone to see the virtual parts.
There will also be a short and intimate virtual service at 8:30pm entirely on Zoom. Choose one, or do both. See you then!