Last night, my family and I went to our church for the 11 pm Christmas Eve candlelight service.
I was fairly tired, and I was distracted by a hundred different things I wanted to do or remember or ponder. Most of the service passed unremarkably.
When we got to the end of the service, when we lit our candles and sang “Silent Night,” something changed. I was overwhelmed by a wave of peace.
As we stood and lifted our candles and proclaimed the glories streaming from heaven afar, I was suddenly aware of all the people in this world who were singing this song on this night. I lifted my candle and sang quietly to myself, “Noche de paz, noche de amor.”
As we sang, an image came to my mind. My family used to own a Disney sing-along video of Christmas carols. The very last carol was Silent Night, and the animation was a stream of monochromatic hooded figures making their way toward the manger and the Christ child. It used to creep me out, because they were all the same, and none of them really had faces, and all they were doing was singing and plodding, plodding and singing.
So many individuals have lived on this planet who have skinned their knees, burned their tongues, sang songs together, and loved Jesus. So many people with hopes and fears and dreams and imaginary worlds inside their heads. But there are moments when our differences don’t matter any more.
There are moments when we all watch a political drama unfold, or wait with bated breath to see where the hurricane goes next, or when we pitch in to raise a toppled country back onto its feet. There are moments when we stand and lift our candles and sing. There are moments when Jesus has reconciled us not only to each other, but to ourselves and to God.
In that moment, we are more than a face or a name or a skill or a catchphrase. We are a group; we are a tribe; we are humanity, and we are messy, and Jesus got messy with us.
Feliz navidad, dear friend.