By God’s Side: December 23, 2020

Weekly Inspirational Reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles

December 23, 2020

The Reverend Dr. John A. DallesTomorrow is Christmas Eve.

In my many years as an ordained minister, this year is only the second in which I was prevented from celebrating Christmas Eve with my congregation in our sanctuary in worship. The other happened when I was the associate minister of The First Presbyterian Church of South Bend, Indiana. That year, we had to cancel Christmas Eve at the last moment, not because of snow (which you might have supposed, with South Bend being in the lake effect region), but because the temperatures had plummeted so low that a statewide emergency had been declared. Essential workers were the only ones permitted on the roads. The greatest fear was that people might get where they were going, turn off their cars, and, when they returned, be prevented from starting them up, and therefore become stranded, due to the frigid weather. It was a major public safety issue.

So we celebrated Christmas Eve at home, as we are doing this year. No, it isn’t the cold that keeps us apart; it is the coronavirus. But the precautions are similar. It is a major public safety issue. Our concern for the well-being of others eclipses our heartfelt longing to be together.

Please know that as you mark this Christmas Eve in a very different way, worshiping online instead of in person, you are part of a great company of believers. Please trust that the Holy Spirit connects each one of us to every one of us, in ways that transcend social distancing and sheltering in place.

And as you do, remember that, as earth-changing as it was, the first Christmas came silently, and intimately, to Mary and Joseph, who were also sheltering in place. They are with you, and you are with them, in Spirit, as the wondrous Gift is given.

The Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles
Interim Senior Pastor, Shadyside Presbyterian Church

About Dr. Dalles

Read more about Dr. Dalles.

Watch a brief video introducing a series of conversations with Dr. Dalles.

About By God’s Side

Shadyside Presbyterian Church publishes By God’s Side, a weekly series of inspirational reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles, to support you in your spiritual journey. These pastoral messages appear in the blog section of the church website each week. (Our weekly e-newsletter includes an excerpt to remind you to read along with us regularly; click here to subscribe to the e-newsletter if you do not already receive it.) We hope this regular feature will help you to draw closer to God’s side in your life of faith.

Read more reflections by Dr. Dalles from By God’s Side.