I wish all of you a blessed Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus in history and the birth of Christ in our times. I pray that each of us is able to celebrate His birth in a way that is alive and real, not just nostalgic.
One way to reap the blessings of this current Christmas is to acknowledge the people and circumstances around you that remind you on a daily basis that Christ is alive and with us today. I am praying that your places of worship are alive and well and choosing to live in hope instead of in fear. I’m hoping that we follow the example of Mary and Joseph, doing the daily tasks that we need to do on the foundation of God’s faithfulness and love, not the immediate circumstances of our lives.
We are offered some very familiar images of the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Moving from darkness to light, great and wonderful joy, coming from seemingly insignificant circumstances and the hope of our God who takes human flesh. We need to make sure these images have a newness of life for us.
We all have some darkness in our lives. The holidays remind us of those who are no longer physically present with us. Many of us still feel the emptiness of their absence. Is it possible to remain in the darkness long enough, so that our souls adjust to the darkness and we begin to see some glimmers of light? Running away from darkness won’t make it go away, but simply exhaust us more than the actual loss has done to us.
The birth of Jesus in a stable reminds us that great things can happen through small and insignificant circumstances. Have you made a choice to live within your own insignificance, believing and hoping that your existence and example will bear fruit? Have you come to believe that Christ can be born in you and through you to everyone who witnesses your life? Living simple lives can be very powerful.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory.” With those words, we are invited to honor and respect the Person of Jesus and our own human existence. Our flesh is a gift, a place where we can hear, taste, touch and smell the goodness of God. When Jesus took on our bodily existence, He showed us how powerful each of our lives can be. We don’t have to be famous in our time, or be known throughout the world. When we stand on the foundation of God’s love and appreciate our lives and the lives of others as a gift, we can spread the Good News simply by being our best selves.
Hang onto Christmas. It’s worth more than a day. Our Church invites us to celebrate it as a season. Take each day of this Christmas season as a way to reflect on the presence of God right here, right now. May the presence of God give you both great humility and incredible freedom. We are humbled by the choice of God to be with us in such a real way, and we are freed to love with our body, mind and spirit. Jesus’ gift of love is wrapped in you to be opened day by day through your acts of love.
Father Donald Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.