Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Christmas 2020 12-25-2020

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

It was time for the annual Nativity pageant put on by the children
of the church. The manger was located in front of the alter steps. Mary
was there in a blue mantel and Joseph in a cotton beard. The wise men
were there with a handful of shepherds, and of course, in the midst of
them all was the Christ Child, lying on the straw. The nativity story was
read by the pastor with carols sung at the appropriate places, and all
went like clockwork until it came time for the arrival of the angels—a
“heavenly host” of the children of the congregation dressed in white and
scattered throughout the pews with their parents.
At the right moment the angels were supposed to come forward
and gather around the manger to sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and
on earth peace, good will among men”, and that is just what they did—
except there were so many angels that there was a fair amount of
crowding and jockeying for position. One angel, about nine years old
who was smaller than most of the other angels, ended up so far out on
the fringes of things that not even by craning her neck and standing on tiptoe could she see what was going on. “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, good will among men,” they all sang on cue, and
then in the momentary pause that followed, the small girl electrified the
entire church by crying out in a voice shrill with irritation and frustration
and enormous sadness at having her view blocked, “Let Jesus show!”
The wise pastor decided to end the pageant right there. “Let Jesus
show!” the child-angel had cried out, and while the congregation sat in
stunned silence, the good father offered a quick final prayer and
blessing, and everybody filed out of church with those unforgettable
words ringing in their ears.
May the little angel’s cry be our prayer in the year ahead: “Let
Jesus show!” in our families and work places and schools; “Let Jesus
show!” in our compassion, forgiveness and joy. May we not “lose”
Jesus in the many demands on our time; may we not “hide” Jesus when
the difficult decision has to be made; may we not “pack” Jesus away
until next Christmas, but may the “Word made flesh” make his dwelling
place among us here, now and always filling every one of our days with his wisdom and grace. Let Jesus Show.

Christmas 2019 12-25-2019

Wednesday, December 25th, 2019

A. I remember my first Christmas as a priest – 46 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.
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.
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
2015….
-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.
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 2019!

Christmas 2018 12-25-2018

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

Wally was big for a first grader. Everybody loved Wally. No bully, he was the gentlest of souls. Wally was a friend even to the smallest kids at school.
When the school staged its Christmas play, Wally wanted to be one of the shepherds. But the teacher directing the play had a larger role in mind for Wally. Wally was cast as the innkeeper. Wally practiced and practiced, but became more and more nervous about his lines.
The night of the play, everything was going beautifully. Then came the part where Mary and Joseph knocked on the door of the inn. Wally answered the door right on cue and gave his line.
“What do you want?”
“We seek lodging,” came the response.
“Seek it elsewhere, the inn is filled,” Wally replied, with just the right touch of brusque annoyance.
“But, sir, we have tried everywhere, we have come a long way, and we are very tired.”
“Go away,” Wally properly commanded. “There is no room in my inn for you.”
“But sir, my wife is with child. Don’t you have a corner where we can get out of the cold?”
That’s when it happened. Wally broke his icy stare and looked at Mary. There was a long silence. The audience became nervous and uneasy. Everyone thought Wally had forgotten his lines.
“No, be gone,” the prompter whispered.
“No, be gone,” Wally said halfheartedly. Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary as they began to move off the stage. Wally couldn’t stand it any longer. Big he was, cruel he could never be. With big tears welling in his eyes he gave a performance never to be forgotten.
“Wait, Joseph, don’t go!” Wally cried. “Bring Mary back. You can have my room and I’ll sleep in the cold.”
A few people thought Wally had ruined the Christmas pageant. But most knew better.
Wally the reluctant innkeeper embodied the spirit of our Christmas celebration, expressed so eloquently in Isaac Watts’ beautiful hymn: “let every heart prepare him room.” The reality is that Christmas is a challenge to us and our values and our dreams. Just as Joseph is challenged by God to welcome the child into his home and heart despite the difficult circumstances, God challenges us to welcome his Christ into our everyday lives and allow the child to transform our hearts and homes in his peace and justice.
If you are ready to take up the Christmas challenge, then let me leave you with a few words as a special reminder to you:
“It is Christmas! It is the most wondrous feast – the birthday of the One who came to show us a God of love. How beautiful are the feet of those who walk the extra step across a room to greet someone with whom they have had differences. How beautiful are the feet of those who step beyond the material gifts and appreciate the heart of the giver. How beautiful are the feet of those who move about in the kitchen making the special foods and serving the guests who gather. How beautiful are the feet of those who not only go to church services but who also fully participate by greeting others joyfully, praying and singing heartily. How beautiful are the feet of those who walk into homeless shelters or places with little comfort to bring some of their own abundance.
Yes, how beautiful are all those feet who walk with the good news this day, with the intention of love in their hearts, for they are living the message of the One who came so long ago. The Christ of abundant love, born over two thousand years ago, lives on in us. As our feet take us near and far, let us continue to be the Christ to one another.
I close:
Divine Messenger,
We will carry the good news of your abundant and abiding love to all we meet and greet today, tomorrow, forever.” Amen