Last evening, the theme of my church’s Christmas Eve Vespers service was “The Birth of the Holy.” Now, if you’ve read this blog at all, then you know I’m an atheist. So why was I 1) at a Christmas Eve service, especially one that talked about 2) “the Holy”?
Because 1) I love Christmas, for reasons relating to joy and love and music and color and lights and giving and sharing and family and bringing the world to life in the midst of winter cold. I listen to the Christmas story with the same mindset as I do any other story, and I appreciate the careful consideration that led the early church to mesh their commemoration of Jesus’s birth with an existing Pagan holiday, thus helping popularize their central figure and bringing tremendous happiness to the world each December.
As for 2), by “the Holy,” our interim minister meant our existence as human creators of heaven here on earth. In that sense, we are all holy, all bearers of light and life, all makers of the world and determiners of our path.
During the beautiful candle-lit service, I had the utter joy of singing a duet of “Gesu Bambino” with my daughter, of watching my son carry a tall pillar candle and help begin spreading the light that spread throughout the darkened sanctuary, and of hearing some very beautiful poetry. The poem that follows brought tears to my eyes last evening. (It’s by St. John of the Cross; I couldn’t locate a source anywhere online but was fortunate enough to find the text here.) You believe whatever you want to when you read it, and I’ll believe what I believe, and together we’ll help create a world full of love and light.
If you want,
the Virgin will come walking down the road
pregnant with the holy,
“I need shelter for the night,
please take me inside your heart,
my time is so close.”
Then under the roof of your soul,
you will witness the sublime
intimacy, the divine, the Christ
taking birth forever,
as she grasps your hand for help, for each of us
is the midwife of God, each of us.
Yes there, under the dome of your being does creation
come into existence eternally, through your womb,
dear pilgrim – the sacred womb of your soul,
as God grasps our arms for help; for each of us is
His beloved servant never far.
If you want, the Virgin will come walking
down the street pregnant with Light and