Posts Tagged ‘12-25-2016’

Christmas 2016 12-25-2016

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

INTRO
A. I remember my first Christmas as a priest – 40 years ago – a small country chapel in the Santa Cruz Mountains (150 people). It was great.

B. I can still picture it – the church was dark – people walked in with candles in their hands. Everyone wanted to light their candles from a special Christmas candle near the altar.

C. As the people came forward they sang familiar carols.
I knew these people – Some had tears in their eyes –
Some of these people had a very hard year…..like some of you may have had this year.
1. a young family who lost a child at birth
2. several families who had gone through a painful divorce
3. a teenage boy who had been battling his drug addition
4. 3 or 4 people who had lost their job
5. a new widow after 50 years of marriage
6. 2 or 3 people diagnosed with cancer
7. on and on – they and many others came…singing, and seeking, the LIGHT of CHRIST.

II As I watched this Christmas procession – I experienced a very holy and powerful moment. These people – regular people like you and me – in that small remote chapel – some way connected with the ENDURING PROMISE OF GOD- THE PROMISE OF GOD……

A. Emmanuel – God with us – and the entire world – in the person and spirit of JESUS – especially where it is darkest in our lives – that amid the human condition – stresses – tragedies – problems – we all face at different times – there is HOPE – no matter how many September 11’s we experience – there is PEACE. There is a LIGHT to lead us to a new day. Our scripture says it best – “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”………THE ENDURING PROMISE OF GOD, EMMANUEL.

III. In this group of people was a wonderful teenager – Tom was a special kid.
Tom was fourteen years old and big for his age – physically. But mentally he was about four-educationally impaired. Nevertheless he had faithfully attended religious education classes for years and knew that Jesus was his Savior and friend.
In the Christmas pageant Tom had only one line. He was the innkeeper, and all he had to say was “There is no room” when Mary and Joseph came to the inn looking for a place to stay.
Tom practiced his line for weeks, until he could open the door, listen to Joseph’s request, and then in a strong voice proclaim “There is no room.”
The night of the pageant came. Everyone was dressed in their authentic costumes. One young girl played the pregnant Mary. Her face was glowing with joy. A lad dressed as Joseph tried to look mature and responsible.
The two came down the aisle of the church and knocked at the door of the “inn.” Tom swung the door open, and on cue responded, “There is no room.”
But at that point Tom didn’t understand that it was a play. As Mary and Joseph turned to walk away, tears ran down his face. Suddenly he called out to them – “Wait! Don’t go! You can have my room!”…….“Wait! Don’t go! You can have my room!”
THE ENDURING PROMISE OF GOD – EMMANUEL WITH US

-God with us in the person of JESUS ……
-God with us in the person of TOM the teenager’s welcoming……
-God with us in the person to your right and left on Christmas 2016….
-God with us in the people of your FAMILY- look at them often and appreciate them. Accept the JESUS in them…Embrace them with Love – Each in your own way – Don’t take them for granted.

IV. Let me close with a beautiful poem because to me it lays out the real challenge of Christmas.

“When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:

“to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among brothers and sister and family,
to make music with the heart.”

I pray we take this challenge to heart. I pray we live it – each in our own way. Merry Christmas 2016!