On this day before Christmas, I’m put in mind of the way this particular Advent unfolded in my life and that of my family.
For starters, my father and step-mother visited Tom and me for the first time in many years. I wouldn’t say we’d been estranged as much as we’d gotten stuck in a pattern whereby Tom and I were the ones who traveled to see them. It was a wonderful reunion, and they loved being here for the Christmas Fair, and for the rededication of the Chapel. I put them in their first-ever Uber early on Monday, December 3rd, to Logan to catch their flights home.
Then Tom and I scurried to turn around the guest room for our friend, Fr. Martin Smith, who arrived in time for lunch that day. Meanwhile, I was preparing to leave for New York to chair a Church Pension Fund board meeting. Early that evening Tom was hit by a car while walking our dog. Suddenly everything was disrupted, and nothing was sure. A kind, young police officer returned the dog, told Martin the news, and waited for me to arrive so he could describe the event. He said, “this will be very hard for you, and I think it’s best for you and your friend to get to the hospital in Boston.” On the drive into Massachusetts General Hospital, I imagined all the horrible things I might learn: that Tom was dead, or gravely injured, or that he was just fine. I suppose there was a kind of shock response happening, but you know what I remember feeling more than anything? Calm and trust. Fear wasn’t absent, and I was anxious, for sure, but more than fear and anxiety, I remember feeling calm and trust.
As most of you know Tom is at home now following two weeks at a rehabilitation hospital. He has a broken pelvis and is expected to make a full recovery.
In the midst of all the disruption grace abounds on every side. A wonderful bishop who has cared for each of us; neighbors and friends from all over who have called or visited; your care and prayers, along with those from the people at St. John’s in Charlestown - all of it reveals a river of love and embrace.
Tonight and tomorrow, Christians everywhere will celebrate the great truth that in Christ things earthly and heavenly are gathered into one, and we are filled with the sweetness of inward peace and goodwill. Nothing else matters.
Wherever you are today, take a moment to thank God for the way Jesus Christ is being born yet again—right now—inside your heart, and in the hearts of those whom you love. Today, more than any other moment in the church’s life, we proclaim that there is a light that cannot be overcome. For some of us the light is bright and beaming; for others it’s fragile and barely flickering. However, whether it’s big or small, light dispels darkness; think of the small candles we’ll hold tonight and how they do likewise.
Every Advent Tom Mousin writes a poem to accompany the Advent calendar he designs. Here’s 2018’s, and it comes with my greatest love:
When doubt or sorrow fills the soul, come, O longed for promised word.
When lies and falsehoods take their hold, come, O truth that must be heard.
When fear is stirred with words of hate, come, O perfect love to reign.
Our hearts with fervent hope await: come, O Christ, be born again.
A happy and holy nativity to you and yours,