The Rector’s Message for the Week of December 27, 2020

Rector Turner
The Reverend Canon Carl Turner

Dear Friends,

All over the world, this Christmas is being celebrated quite differently. Many countries are in lockdown, so many of us cannot be with our families, and many of us have lost loved ones or have friends who have lost someone dear to them. This Christmas makes us all think even more about family and friendship.

Yesterday, Mother Turner and I joined Ms. Francisco and the Choir School Faculty for their end of term celebration with the boys. It was so poignant and yet filled with amazing joy and hope. Children have a different way of looking at the world and, perhaps, it is good to remember that at the heart of the Christmas story is a helpless newborn who was homeless at his birth, needed his family, was almost killed by a tyrant king in a moment of infanticide, and became a refugee before he was able to settle in his home in Nazareth. Yet, that helpless babe became the source of all hope and life. I think it is very significant that Jesus was born in Bethlehem not simply because he was of the House and lineage of David, but because the word Bethlehem also means ‘House of Bread.’ Jesus is the bread of life, lying in a manger, in the house of bread! How precious that God still comes to us in humility, through the bread of the Eucharist by which he floods our fragile bodies with his grace.

The vaccination program has started – praise God! There are many more months to go before it will take effect and the daily death toll is shocking. However, the great feast of the Nativity is also surrounded by other feasts that are shocking – St. Stephen the first martyr, the Holy Innocents, St. Thomas of Canterbury, murdered at his altar (the 850th anniversary of that martyrdom will be celebrated on December 29 next week) – the Church in her wisdom does not allow us to bask in the cozy glow of the stable scene; Jesus was born into the real world and the real world can be harsh and frightening. But our harsh real world is also tempered and changed by the birth of this Child, and draws us back to the wonder of the Shepherds and the adoration of the Magi. Mary “treasured all these things in her heart.” May we also treasure the gift of Christmas this year in particular, and the blessing it brings to our world, to our homes, to our families, to our Church and Choir School, and to each one of us.

“How silently, how silently,
the wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of the heavens.
No ear may hear his coming,
but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him still
the dear Christ enters in.”

A Very Happy Christmas to you all!

Your Priest and Pastor,
Carl