Christmas letter 2020

Advent, Christmas a time of new beginning, this year more than ever!

A year has passed, and Advent and Christmas a year ago were still a time with no worries, a time of old normality, a time like all the other years.

This year is different. Feelings, activities, even work are filled with insecurities, and many uncertainties are mixed in together with a little bit of adventure. Wearing a mask, yes or no, washing your hands and disinfecting as often and as thoroughly as possible and keeping your distance are part of the new reality. No big events are on the agenda. Christmas markets, and aimless shopping are out of our daily routine. This time of Covid-19 calls us to be recollected, to reflect a little, to think about whether I need all this or is it possible to exist with a little less?

Questions are increasing like: why am I alive, what is my task in this often big and often diminishing world; and also the question: what does it look like inside my four walls, inside our four walls? Can we still remain together, do we notice that my I must become a WE, for the earth will only carry and bear us together.

The readings before Advent are often from John‘s Book of Revelation and from the Book of Daniel, where a world is shown us in which the old order collapses and something new comes about. Many of us read these books as stories about past times or as something that will happen in the future. But is this correct? Aren‘t John‘s revelations rather the concrete story of the first Christians’ life in the Roman Empire? Aren‘t they the questions asked by Christians about how things will continue? What will the new every-day life look like, even if now there is the threat of being torn apart by chaos, hatred and oppression, pain and suffering? Doesn‘t this way of seeing things hold the great hope that there will be a future, that there will be a new beginning, that the old will pass away? And what this future will look like becomes our task! There is no expectation of salvation in which we do nothing but watch! In God‘s plan for creation, we are asked to take part in constructing it, to take part in shaping it. Our God is a God of creation who has created life and who gives life at every moment of our being!

Crib in the Novitiate in Ein Karem

What is our daily life today, how would we describe it, what do we learn from it? This life, this human life is limited, but spiritual life is eternal. The human person was formed from the earth, but this person became alive only after God‘s Spirit was breathed into him and her. We are constantly concerned that our looks, our thoughts be modern, that our I and our life should function in accord with the general rules of the mass. We find orientation in the conventions of society, and corresponding with the trends of our time is to be “in”, We dress according to what the fashion shows us, and this as cheaply and extensively as possible, even if people in other countries are exploited for this; and we think that derogatory comments about our neighbors and strangers living with us are maybe even cool. 

What is cool is that in Advent, on Christmas, God became a human person, that the timeless, eternal One accepts limitation by becoming a human being.

To all of you a blessed time of Advent and a Christmas of becoming human, for being human means living with limitation.

Sr. Juliana, nds