Weekly Message 12/25/14

December 24‐25, 2014
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Isaiah 9:1‐6 Titus 2:11‐14 Luke 2:1‐14
 
At twilight on Christmas Eve the freeways are filled with cars transiting far and near containing families and friends joining together for the holidays. On Christmas morning a similar ebb and flow occurs as families gather themselves together, get loaded into cars and trek from one home to another so as to celebrate a joyeux noël. As arduous as Mary's long journey upon a donkey while seeking shelter, these commuting families will endure crowded roads, accidents, delays and heightened tensions familiar to the holidays. There are as well those who are neither traveling nor preparing to welcome friends or family. Some live solitary lives, surrounded by bustling communities in which they are anonymous. Some are in shelters or riverbeds with a cot or cardboard as their stable. Some are in hospitals and rest homes, age having depleted their youthful vigor. Still more are worn and weary, tormented by long‐ago choices that have resulted in broken lives and hurting spirits. 
 
Regardless of the varied images of how people acknowledge or avoid Christmas, many of us share remembrances of what Christmas USED TO BE. As unique as our present life circumstances, for each of us there was a FIRST TIME we heard the story of God becoming one with us. Perhaps upon the lap of a doting grandmother or in a church, school or neighborhood event; with child‐like acceptance we received the story and believed that God wanted to be with us. Society certainly chimed in with its emphasis on an amazing fellow in red with a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly possessing abilities to visit every home on the planet in one night! Who would not want to believe in these wonderful stories!?!
 
There was a time we believed with such intensity that we could hardly wait for Christmas. Then, we began to grow older. Presents and miracles for which we hoped were not forthcoming, the impossibility of the North Pole story melted like ice and the toll of life spawned questions about the value and purpose of Jesus. What was once
 anxiously awaited has for many become a time for parties, shopping, decorating, travel, perhaps even a mandatory visit to a religious service to make nice with extended family; the Star of Wonder no longer shines bright and Christmas has ceased being a divine gift but something to be gotten through.
 
So, why are you here at this Christmas Mass? Out of duty to mom and dad? Because of the kids? Because this is
what is supposedly expected of you? Or, might there be an emptiness within your heart that, despite your best
efforts, has never been filled? Are you tired of carrying life all alone? Have events beaten and wearied you? If
you could go back, to when you easily BELIEVED that Jesus was God's gift to YOU, would you be willing to try?
Christmas is not for perfect people living perfect lives. Christmas is not about decorating, preparing the perfect
feast nor obtaining gifts and toys. Christmas is for we who are weary, frightened, overwhelmed, pulled in many
directions and befuddled with what has become of our lives. Christmas IS for those who don't know how to fix
all that is wrong or make right the mistakes lived.
 
Christmas does not require heavy doctrine, theological rules or ritual discipline. Christmas only needs an open
soul and a willingness to HOPE again. No matter your circumstances, today, ….God offers us a fresh start. The
infant Jesus does not come to judge or correct, but in search of a home in which to live; a home within our hearts
and imagination. Whatever our past disappointments, the Child of Bethlehem wishes to simply be with us.
Are you willing to start over? Are you willing to try again? Are you willing, within your heart, to say yes? Are you
willing to let Jesus be with you tonight, right now, right here? Christmas can be as full and wonderful as you
remember it…all you have to do is say YES, I want to believe again.
 
The story is the same as when you first heard it; a pregnant mom and dad in distress, a stable filled with
animals, a child being born…a child who has made a difference in billions of lives. All that Christmas needs to
happen again is YES.