The best of times and worst of times, at Christmas

Not sure about you, but to co-opt a Dickensian phrase, it feels right now “like the best of times and the worst of times.”  The worst of times aspect is readily apparent right now, what with more Americans dying each day of COVID than perished on 9-11 or Pearl Harbor.  While some countries are also facing similar challenges, others are not, and one can’t help but wonder how much of the suffering now occurring around this country is a product of failed leadership and mismanagement.

Clearly the “best of times” is harder to discern right now, but it is present if we know where to look.  For example, we are living during a time and moment of unbelievable human ingenuity.  In less than 11 months scientists at companies here and in Europe partnered up to develop a new generation vaccine using recently discovered Messenger RNA technology.  This had never before been tried to immunize human beings, and it turns out it is working.   It took decades to develop vaccines for small pox and the seasonal flu and an international group of scientists appears to have just accomplished the impossible in less than a year.

On top of this if you look up in the sky you will see a beautiful and unusual celestial manifestation, one that has not occurred for more than 800 years.  The “Conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn is becoming brighter each night as the two largest planets in our solar system increasingly overlap in the night sky from our perspective here on earth.  This phenomenon has also been called the “Christmas Star” since there is some conjecture that the famed Star of Bethlehem may have been a planetary conjunction.  Regardless, something beautiful and magnificent is forming in the night sky and will be at its peak on or around December 21. We are the first human beings to behold this phenomenon in over 800 years.

Add to this the many stories I hear and read about people finding ways to help one another right now and it really does feel like the worst and best of times.  There are so many ways those of us who are safe and well can make a difference right now.  All we have to do is try.

Please join us tonight for our Zoom-enabled Christmas Party and Caroling Sing-a-long starting at 6:30 on Zoom.  Festive attire, hats and “unfortunate” Christmas sweaters are all encouraged.  It should be a fun and heart-warming way to great one another and sing some carols during this strange and challenging time.  See you in church,