This Fragile Season

John 1:1-14 – CHRISTMAS – for December 25, 2016

“In the beginning was the word . . .” (John 1:1)

I will call him John, if only to honor the Gospel writer that annually beckons me at the most (and for too many, the least) wonderful time of the year.

In the beginning was the Word

                  and the word was with God

                  and the Word was God . . .

For a few years at a church I once served, John sang Ava Maria at the Christmas Eve service. Sometimes, his name was listed in the worship bulletin; sometimes he unexpectedly appeared and we’d let him sing. Of course we would!

It was a United Methodist congregation, and yet there was John, crooning the most Roman Catholic of songs about a maiden and her child:

Ave Maria! maiden mild!
Listen to a maiden’s prayer!
Thou canst hear though from the wild;
Thou canst save amid despair.
Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,
Though banish’d, outcast and reviled –
Maiden! hear a maiden’s prayer;
Mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave Maria!

John may have been a drug addict. He occasionally worshipped in the non-Ava Maria seasons, present for a few Sundays in a row, perhaps singing in the choir, and then—for months—disappearing. He randomly worked, with a mix of rumors that his family was wealthy and sent him money. The then thirty-something John drifted here and there. I’d worry about him. I’d forget about him. I have wondered, especially during Decembers, what happened to John? I recollect the last time I saw him was the last Christmas Eve I did at that small rural church. Continue reading →