Rector’s Blog: Hard Candy Christmas?

Hard Candy Christmas?

By Charlie Dupree

Alert: this blog post may not be infused with the usual, expected Christmas cheer.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Hard Candy Christmas,” by Dolly Parton. True, it’s not the brightest, cheeriest of tunes. It tells the story of a Christmas that is not run through with opulence and dozens of gifts under the tree. A “hard candy Christmas” was a Christmas in which families couldn’t afford much more than hard candy that went for a penny per piece. I have to admit that the holiday season stirs up for me its fair share of melancholy . . . so many expectations . . . so many hopes . . . so many . . .

Can God be present in a hard candy Christmas? Can God be present when the stockings aren’t stuffed and our trees aren’t the most twinkly? Of course! This, after all, is the hopeful message of the incarnation. God was not born into opulence or tinsel. God wasn’t born into decked halls of mistletoe and majesty. God was born in the midst of real life . . . REAL. LIFE. Y’ALL.

Let’s be real, then. Life can be hard and challenging and confusing. In fact, this is why God becomes flesh. In becoming one “of us,” God hallowed all experiences. Most importantly, God hallows the experiences of the suffering. Society has taught us that Christmas is about having more and more. But the message of the Incarnation is that God favors the last, the least, and the lost.

Sunday at 4:30pm, St. Paul’s will offer a special service dedicated to those who find Christmas challenging (Click here to learn more). If you’ve experienced any kind of loss or hardship that makes this season a struggle, you’re invited to come and be with community and with God, knowing God can be in the presence all of our emotions. Afterwards, please gather with the St. Paul’s family at our Foyer meal to eat together and BE together. Be yourself, even if you aren’t as cheery as you’d like to be. No apologies necessary.

Christmas is based on mystery . . . the “mystery of the Incarnation,” we call it. The Good News of the Incarnation is that God is present in all of life, even when life isn’t what you expected.

Thank you for being you. Thank you for being honest. God already knows what is going on in your heart, and our church community is the place to be real. If you’re having a “hard candy Christmas,” know that God is holding you. And, if you are having a Christmas of plenteousness and joy, give thanks, and hold in prayer those who find this season a struggle. The Word became flesh and lived among the diversity of life. May we be awake to how God is moving and active in each and every experience.

See you in church (Advent III)

Rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Richmond, Virginia
Preferred pronouns: he, him, his