Noël means Christmas, it means birthday, and it can even mean good news. Joyeux has “joy” right there in it, meaning merry or happy or just joyful. It’s what they say in France in a few weeks.
What do you want to say to and about Christmas this year? What do we say together? How do we spell good news?
Moving through Advent this year, the N stands in for normal, the O for omicron, the E for evangelical and the L is for love. At least for some of us in church.
I long for some “normal” this year. I miss normal. But sociologists and others worry about this word. Beside its dangerous limits and restrictions, Christianity’s shocking side (like God born among us as a baby or just God asking us to feed the sheep) all asks us to move beyond normal. So maybe the first letter of noël shouldn’t invoke normal but something new.
I worry about omicron already. It is in the United States now. In Matthew, Jesus doesn’t worry just about manifest dangers but about rumors of them. Paul worries about gossip. Omicron may or may not endanger us, but its gossip and rumors wear us down already. So I’m not happy for it to be the second letter of noel. What’s the alternative? Original? Open? One? Ontic? (That means being.)
The word evangelical belongs to all Christians. It means sharing the Good News about God in Christ or Emmanuel. It belongs at Christmas. And, of course, if you try to distill Christianity to its essence you can go to the shortest quote almost anywhere (1 John 4) where it says “God is love.”
What is the content of your expression regarding Christmas, noël, this year?
How about this: God brings us a new being to share as love, by love, and for love. Noel is new, ontic, evangelical and loving. Christmas is a fresh slate. It is new life. It is God’s, and that is the best news of all — we don’t have to make noël. God makes it for us.
There are rumors, surprises, gossip, and challenges ahead. Between now and Christmas Eve there are changes to come. But there are blessings, too. And if we get noël right, they will all be part of the new life.
See you along The Way,