Let me take this opportunity to send my prayers and blessings to you and your loved ones as you celebrate the wonderful Feast of Christmas. Each and every year, we recall the sacred moment in history when God took on flesh to live among us. This took place in a nondescript location and in the humblest circumstances. The Nativity of Jesus was the light shining in the darkness. It was revealed to shepherds and kings, and involved a humble virgin and carpenter. God’s plan involved human beings, just like us, who were asked to participate in this divine drama.
When the original Christmas took place, there was a lot of uncertainty in the world, especially in the land where our Savior was born. Jesus was born in Bethlehem town. His parents were forced to welcome him in a homeless circumstance. At that time, the political climate between the Jews of Israel and the Romans who occupied their Holy Land was quite tense. The power of the Roman dictatorship must have made their world a very dark place. But, this was the world of darkness in which God chose to immerse himself, in human form. As Jesus, entered into the heart of history, God slowly started to take humanity by the hand. Jesus led the poor, the broken hearted, the oppressed, the sinner, the sick, and the unwanted to a place of promise. By his accompanying them, he allowed God to take all these people by the hand and into his heart. The reality of Jesus’ life shows all of us, that it is God sincerest desire to accompany men and women as they make their journey through life, especially in times of struggle.
As we celebrate this Christmas, I am sure that many of us feel parts of human experience are still shrouded in darkness. Recent shootings and acts of terror have brought us back to a sense of uncertainty. However, we cannot forget that Christmas brings God’s presence into the eternal now. God is waiting to take us by the hand even when we are anxious about the world around us. As we begin to journey through time, Christ accompanies us on life’s journey. He is to be found waiting to heal us in our moments of loss and in our experiences of suffering. Jesus is to be found in the guise of the poor and in the wandering refugees and immigrants who go into a world of the unknown, looking for a land of light and promise. Jesus, the Light of the World, was with Mary and Joseph as they faced rejection, and as they fled as political refugees to Egypt. Jesus, the Light of the World, continues to accompany those strangers who appear on our T.V. screens who have been rendered as political nuisances in. God’s light is to be discovered in all of us this Christmas, as we make a choice to embrace the prophetic call of our baptism and reach out to those who need us the most.
There are some among us who will be going to church this Christmas for the first time without a spouse or loved one because they have suffered the loss of them this past year. Christ accompanies them through the warmth of our friendship and encouragement. He is waiting to speak words of hope as they listen to His Word, and to nourish them in the breaking of the bread. The doors our churches will be opened this Christmas to the rich and poor alike, both young and old. Our congregations will be made up of people from many different races, languages, and ways of life. This is our opportunity to shine as our Christian hospitality will clearly state that all are welcome no matter where they are on the journey.
My prayer is that you will allow this Christmas to thrust you into the life of Jesus, where you will allow him to take you by the hand, as you reach out to others. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the one who has hurt you by extending the hand of forgiveness. Do not neglect the hands of those reaching out to you in their need. If you look closely enough at such need in faith, you will discover the wounded hands of Jesus reaching out as well. Be mindful of the strangers around you, knowing that they all have names and their own personal story. God has placed them into your path for a reason. Your hands of welcome will allow them to know God’s presence in the dignity afforded them. Just as God chose to accompany the world in the first Christmas, he is now asking you this Christmas to accompany those around you.
May you join in God’s deepest desire as you continue to walk the walk with others and as you endeavor to make sure no one is ever forgotten, this Christmas and in the New Year.