The Reality

By Chava Redonnet, the pastor of Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church which meets in the dining room of the Rochester Catholic Worker. This is the bulletin for Sunday, January 8, 2022.                                            

Dear Friends,

On New Year’s morning, I woke up knowing what the day would hold: Second Christmas, celebrating with the family members who couldn’t make it on Christmas because of the weather. I was surprised to realize that although I was very much looking forward to time with my family, the thought of another Christmas dinner left me feeling…  unenthusiastic.  As the day went on, texting with my daughters, I realized I was not alone in that. Feeling some mounting stress, I finally texted a list of everything our family has been through in the past two months. Four of us had covid. Three job changes. Two moves, two blizzards, two missed holidays, two surgeries and a car accident. Everyone in the family has had one or more major events happen. We are exhausted! So I pointed that out, and our need for a low-key day. “We’re not going to make up for all that today,“ I said. We changed our dinner plans and ordered pizza.

In the end we had a lovely day, and enjoyed being together. We told stories, we laughed. The pizza was delicious, and no one seemed to miss the fancier meal we had planned. We downsized our expectations and that turned out to be the best thing we could have done.

Today we had our Christmas service in the nursing home, two weeks late because of the weather. Now, five floors are on quarantine, so we had a small group. We sang Christmas carols, and it felt like really Christmas. It was lovely, actually, this trimmed-down, low-expectations service. And having it so late meant that the three kings could be at the manger!

Our service at church was low-key this year, too. No manic Christmas pageant, a simple dinner, a quiet Mass. And when I preached, I talked about that first Christmas, and what it might have been like. How when you first hear that call from God, it feels like, wow, you’re walking into the light, all this magnificent energy. But the reality – well, that can be pretty confusing, and lonely. The reality is showing up late with your nine months pregnant wife and nowhere to sleep. The reality is giving birth in a smelly stable surrounded by animals, and putting the baby in a manger because there’s nowhere else. The reality is danger, and vulnerability. And the reality is, God is here in the boring, mundane, disappointing moments just as much as in the times on the mountaintop.  Walking with us. That’s what we were just celebrating! God is with us.

One of the gifts of the past three years has been learning how much we can let go of. How plans can change, expectations be altered. Maybe learning to value quiet, intimate celebrations. And especially, knowing that Christmas dinner is not about the food, it’s about the loved ones, and time together, even remotely.

I hope you had a good Christmas, with moments of love and joy. May the new year be full of LIFE and growth. May you grow in ways you have never dreamed! And may you know that in the good times and in the bad, God walks with us every step of the way.

Love to all, Chava

Thanks to your generosity, we are a third of the way to our annual fundraising goal of $30K. If you would like to make a donation, kindly make checks out to Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church, and mail to PO Box 10602, Rochester, NY 14610. We can also receive donations by Venmo: search for Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church.

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