by Nancy Corson Carter
For this holy night I am drawn to Pope Francis’s beautiful blessing for us in the conclusion (paragraph 245) of his encyclical (in bold letters).
In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present.
On this Eve of Christ’s birth, we remember “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” And every breath we breathe is his presence: ruach, spiritus, pneuma.
In God’s grace all children are beloved—Christ, ourselves, all creatures, all life.
He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone,
Wherever we are, we can let the holiness of this Eve comfort and companion us (putting aside our last minute scurrying and worrying).
In return we offer our hearts as resting place for this dear Child.
He is Emmanuel, God with us—tonight, tomorrow, forever and ever.
for he has united himself definitively to our earth
In Christ God unites us with every element of the cosmos. The angels, donkeys, shepherds, and sheep at his birth represent the fullness of creation’s rejoicing.
and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward.
Pope Francis urges us to act with greater concern for nature and for the poor. He asks what “little ways of love” can we practice? What economic or political or other initiatives for earth care can we support?
Prayer: We pray for patience to listen for Christ’s call. Let us sing as we go, a brave and joyful song of hope.
Praise be to him!
Nancy Corson Carter is a publishing poet and writer, facilitates an Earth Care Congregation in Chapel Hill, NC, and is active in the Shalem Society for Contemplative Leadership. She is Professor Emerita of Humanities at Eckerd College and was Moderator of PRC from 1999-2005.