Dear St. PJ’s Community,
I can still feel the deep meditation guided by candlelight and the divine sounds of saxophone, guitar, and the heavenly voices of Tiffany Jackson and Kaley Casenhiser from our “Blue Christmas” service this past Thursday. It was an absolutely beautiful service acknowledging that the holiday season can be filled with grief and loss as well as joy and hope.
In his wonderful sermon, David Tate leaned into this mystery – many of us hold a wide range of emotions all at the same time during this season: memories of childhood happiness, the warmth of family and community, but also the pain of loss and change and death. David pointed out that as Christians, we already know the whole story of Jesus, from the miracle of his birth, to his torture, suffering, and death on the cross - and our faith holds all of this in one. As David reminded us, our Christmas nativity scenes hint at this, particularly in the gifts from the Magi. Myrrh is an embalming oil that symbolizes death. Even at that first Christmas, all of human life, from birth to love to suffering to death, was present in that stable.
This Sunday is the last Sunday of Advent before we prepare for the joy of the birth of Christ, the miracle that God Herself sent Her son to live among us as a human.
A tradition at St. PJs that we will uphold this Sunday is the blessing of the nativity scenes. Since I love learning about stories and backstories of things, I had to look into the history of nativity scenes. In my perusing, I learned that the first documented live nativity scene was staged by St. Francis in 1223 in central Italy. It involved live humans and animals, and was St. Francis’ attempt to refocus Christmas on the worship of Christ rather than on “material things.” PJs has a wonderful collection of scenes of different shapes and styles, that you can view at the back of the church tomorrow and throughout the Christmas season.
So my friends, this coming week let us rejoice in the hope that God came to us as a crying baby in a humble stable to live our human pain and suffering and love and joy!
Peace and blessings,
Warden and history enthusiast
PJs Wardens and Vestry