Comes In the Night:
A Reflection for Christmas
by the Reverend Noel E. Bordador
are the people,
Winter of life,
We tremble in shadows this cold endless night,
Frozen in the snows lie roses sleeping,
Flowers that will echo the sunrise,
Fire of hope is our only warmth,
Weary, its flame will be dying soon. 1
Many people anticipate the season of Christmas for it is a time that connotes joy and warmth, family and tradition, gift giving and holiday cheers, sumptuous meals and fun-filled gatherings. Many people don’t seem bothered that Christmas is embedded within the tomb of a cold winter season, with its long dark nights, and when life for many of God’s creatures is sleeping.
But for many, Christmas, despite its glitter and its “magic”, leaves them cold, and the coming of Christmas makes them “tremble in shadows this cold endless night.” Christmas makes them emotionally weary, and they would rather get it over soon. Christmas could be a painful time that often brings feelings of sadness, melancholia and deep loneliness. Christmas has a way of opening up old wounds that have not been completely healed but we would rather forget. Perhaps we still yearn to have that great loving and welcoming family we wished we had but all we got is a broken family, or perhaps, an “imperfect” family which could not accept us fully or love us the way we want them to love us. Perhaps some of us are not welcome to our family’s gatherings because we are gay, lesbian or transgender; or perhaps we can only be welcome if we don’t talk about being gay, or act gay, or as long as we don’t bring our significant other. Or perhaps, we just don’t have any family left or they are far away. Perhaps we yearn for the special someone who had left us and we wish he or she never did but we can’t do anything about it. They got over us and moved on, but we can’t. Or perhaps we just yearn for that special someone who never did come into our lives. Perhaps we remember our loved ones who have died, leaving us aching for their presence, missing so much their embrace, touch and kiss that will never come again, at least not on this side of life. Or perhaps, since Christmas occurs at the dead of winter, we are confronted with our mortality, especially some of us whose bodies are breaking due to illness or the natural wear and tear of life.
All these dampen hope and joy of the season. Yet, we continue to hope for that life-giving Word in the midst of the long dark and cold wintry night of the soul…
in the distance,
Call in the night,
On wind you enfold us you speak of the light,
Gentle on the ear you whisper softly,
Rumors of a dawn so embracing
Breathless love awaits darkened souls,
Soon we will know of the morning. 2
The all too familiar Christmas story goes that the Word so long awaited by the People of God in grips of hopelessness came in the middle of a long cold wintry night. God came and comes at night. God came and comes in the midst of darkness. God came and comes to his beloved People in the midst of their despair and loneliness and suffering. God’s spoken Word of love came as the faint “Voice in the distance” coming from that poor manger. God’s spoken Word came as a “call in the night,” a call of a cry of a tiny, vulnerable Infant who shares in our vulnerability. The night was turned into the morning by the birth of the Word of hope in the midst of hopelessness.
The promise of God in the Christmas story is that he will come to us in the night of faith, that God will be born in the emptiness of our souls and aching hearts. The promise of Christmas is that “breathless love awaits darkened souls.” When we are feeling lonely and unloved, we read the Christmas story to remind ourselves that there is indeed a Lover waiting for us- the Lover in a manger in Bethlehem who awaits us with his loving arms.
Shine like the star,
Your light that guides shepherds and kings from afar
Shimmer in the skies so empty, lonely,
Rising in warmth of your Son’s love,
Star unknowing of night and day,
Spirit we wait for your loving Son. 3
The Spirit planted the Word of love in the womb of a woman; it is by this Spirit that Mary gave birth to the Word made flesh, Jesus, the Joy and Hope of the world. Likewise, this same Spirit plants the Word of love and hope of in the wombs of our hearts and thus, the Spirit enables us to give birth to joy and hope- “the Love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given us…”(Romans 5:5) We all have been given the gift of the Spirit in that we all have been given hearts with a great capacity to love and for love. Even as we ourselves feel emptiness and loneliness, we still can give out love and hope. We may never be able to take away each other’s unique pain or suffering, but we could speak the Word of love and hope to someone who sorely needs it. The antidote to loneliness is to reach out to another person in love and give love. It does not take away our loneliness, but the act of sharing perhaps could lessen it. When we do reach out in love, we give birth anew to Him in the very act of giving love and hope and God’s love can be felt by someone yearning for love primarily through us.
1,2,3 From the Christmas carol, Night of Silence, by Dan Kantor (1984), IL: GIA Publications.
2008 Noel E. Bordador
Noel Bordador is a gay Filipino priest in the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
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