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Be Born In Us Today


My favorite feature on the Apple Watch is not the date, nor the notifications of texts or emails I might otherwise miss, or even the outdoor temperature. It is the sunrise and sunset times. 


As the breaking or the closing of the day draws nearer, I pay close attention to the appointed minute, based on my geographical location, because I want to be mindful of that sacred moment when night passes into day and day passes into night.


Why is it sacred? Because it offers the opportunity to mark past, present and future – to honor what God has given that day or night, where we find ourselves at this point of transition, and to look ahead at what is to come. “In my end is my beginning,” hymn writer Natalie Sleeth memorably penned, turning around the famous quote from T.S. Eliot.


This struck me all over again late on a recent afternoon as I was driving toward the Pennsylvania Turnpike entrance. A brilliant sunset was in progress. Nearing the traffic light, I spied between the trees the full sun suspended just above the horizon. As I pulled up to the stop I could no longer see it. But two minutes later as I passed onto the on ramp, it was gone. In those 120 seconds that huge fiery orb had sunk out of sight, making for a vivid experience of this transition.


It is much the same as the church marks its experience of time in the turning of one liturgical year to the next. On December 3, as we move into Advent and a new year in the life of the church, we will “Awake! Awake, and greet the new morn,” in the words of favorite composer Marty Haugen. Just as with the passing of day to night, this sacred transition opens before us the experience of past, present and future. What spiritual territory have we moved through in the past year? Who have we become and how have we grown in our knowledge of and relationship to the living Christ? And how do we now place our hope in him, and lift that to God, as we continue our participation with God in the great work of reconciliation?


Our charge as faithful disciples is not only to remember but to recreate. In making our way through each liturgical year through the lens of one of the gospel writers (we are moving into Year B, the year of Mark and John; Year A is Matthew and Year C is Luke), we are not just hearing about what happened in Jesus’ time but we are living these events, these miracles and healings and trials and temptations. In whatever way is unique to each of us, we are making them our own and taking that experience into our communities.


Worship is a continual process of renewal and rebirth. As you are standing in the midst of your congregation on Christmas Eve and singing the beloved carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” take to heart that phrase in the last stanza: “Be born in us today.” Let its truth sweep you up into the sacred and urgent enterprise of the salvation of the world.




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