In the first week of the church’s pandemic shut down this past March, I wrote about the removal of the Resurrection Window from the east transept of the Sanctuary. On my daily walks from our manse to the church offices, the sight of that window being removed became a metaphor for my grief and uncertainty about the unfolding pandemic season. I wrote back then, “The removal of that treasured window, and all that it symbolizes for us, felt like adding insult to injury just now a few weeks before Easter.”
So now, what a gift that just a few weeks before Christmas the newly refurbished Resurrection Window has been reinstalled! The morning sunlight floods through that window again with a colorful symbolic array of Christian hope. At this time of the year we tend to look back and focus our attention on the baby born in Bethlehem, but the midnight manger means little apart from the resurrection light of Easter’s dawn.
One biblical scholar remembers a story from his childhood that helped him realize the past, present and future tenses of Advent’s joy and expectation. When he was about seven years old, around Christmas he began singing the familiar carol, “Joy to the World” around the house. When he sang the second line, “The Lord has come,” his mother gently corrected him saying, “No – the words aren’t, ‘The Lord has come.’ The words are, ‘The Lord is come.’” He remembers being puzzled at the time, but realized the truth of it later writing, “Christmas is about the coming in the present of the Lord who came long ago in the past. Jesus comes again each Christmas.”
Jesus comes again each Christmas! Jesus comes anew to be reborn in our hearts. Jesus comes with the assurance of God’s near presence in everything that makes us human, even unto death. Since yesterday’s COVID-19 death count may be the highest single-day count yet, we are called to remember that though they die, they yet live because Jesus comes bathed in the light of resurrection.
We approach a Christmas unlike any we have ever experienced. In order to keep those we love and our congregation safe we cannot gather, we cannot join our voices in great number to sing our treasured carols, and we cannot celebrate in crowds of good cheer. But we can be grateful, that by this congregation’s generosity to the capital improvement projects, the Sanctuary’s Resurrection Window is restored and reinstalled. In the coming year we will be together again and enjoy the light that shines through it, a vivid reminder that the Lord is come!