I have a 19th century steamer trunk in my attic filled to capacity with mementos. There are the ring sized plastic hospital bracelets my infant children wore when they were born, 1940’s movie star stills that used to hang in my high school locker, a small braid of dark brown hair from when one of my best friends in college cut her long, beautiful mane, (which is now entirely gray) and broke my heart by transferring to another school. She knew how badly I wanted her to stay where she was, with me, and us to stay the same, so she sent me the braid with a letter from her trip across country.
Did you ever hear that you have an entirely new skin every seven years? I just found out that’s a myth. Your skin is replaced entirely every few weeks. It means the physical “me” who cried in the backseat as we pulled out of the driveway of my childhood home by the lake for the last time, who proposed to Rosemary on that summer afternoon in Cape Cod, who tried to let my three year old daughter embrace the whole ocean without getting taken out to sea is gone; an almost entirely different person many times over. It must be why I’m so avid about collecting the pieces of the past, trying to keep the places and people I’ve loved, many of whom have died, for as long as I can.
I’m guessing the same thing is true with you. Maybe when you were waking up on Christmas day, in that dim place between being consciousness and asleep, you hoped you would smell your mother’s cinnamon buns. But she is long dead and you are many years and miles away from that home. Maybe you especially miss your husband around the holidays or your favorite dog or that particular spot in the woods in a country far away. If you went to church on Christmas Eve all of these loves are probably part of the reason you went. If there was anytime you might hear her voice, smell that kitchen or touch his hand just once more, even in a dream, it might happen on that most hopeful of nights.
John’s Gospel opens with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” The word for “Word” in Biblical Greek is “Logos”, but Logos means more. Logos is the organizing principle of the universe. It’s the ground of being and the substance of life. For John, Logos is Jesus.
If John’s right, the “Word” must include that time she smiled and you felt that you were suddenly your real self for the first time because you were so loved and known. And when you were skating alone on the lake and it began to snow and you disappeared into holiness, that moment must be in Jesus too.
If all of those people, places and moments are Jesus and in Jesus, John’s Gospel promises they aren’t lost. Christmas is a reminder that the one who divided the light from the darkness and made all that is came into the world looking for you. Every love you have ever known or will know, every beautiful piece of music and every perfect day is Him calling to you by your real name, the name only you and he know. And what he calls is always the same: “Come find me”
Your sister in Christ,
Rev. Laurie Jean Wurm