Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day

December 25, 2015
+ I’m a church geek. You know how you know I’m a church geek? Because one of my greatest pleasures in life is doing the Christmas morning Mass.  Yes, I know. Christmas Eve is beautiful. But Christmas morning.  I don’t know. It’s just just…something special. I think that is what Christmas Day is all about. This sense of it all being just…a bit more holy and complete.

The great Trappist monk and poet, Thomas Merton, once wrote this poem. I love it:

Make ready
for the Christ
whose smile,
like lightning
sets free
the Song
of everlasting
that now sleeps
in your paper
flesh like

For me, that captures perfectly this strange feeling I have experiencing this morning how I LOVE a Christmas Day mass And now—this morning— Christmas is here.  This morning, we celebrate the Light.  And we celebrate the Word.

We celebrate the Light that has come to us in our collective and personal darkness.  We celebrate the Light that has come to us in our despair and our fear, in our sadness and in our frustration. And we celebrate this Word that has been spoken to us—this Word of hope.  This Word that God is among us. We celebrate this

whose smile,
like lightning
sets free
the Song
of everlasting

When we think long and hard about this day, when we ponder it and let it take hold in our lives, what we realized happened on that day when Jesus was born was not just some mythical story.   It was not just the birth of a child under dire circumstances, in some distant, exotic land.  

What happened on that day was a joining together—a joining of us and God.  God met us half-way.  God came to us in our darkness, in our blindness, in our fear—and cast a light that destroyed that darkness, that blindness, that fear.

God didn’t have to do what God did. God didn’t have to descend among us and be one of us.  But by doing so, God showed us a remarkable intimacy.

Last night at Mass I shared a great quote from the great Dominican theologian, Meister Ekhart:

“What good is it  if Mary gave birth to the Son of God [two thousand years ago]? I too must give birth to the Son of God in my time, here and now. We are all meant to be the mothers of God. God is always needing to be born.”

I love that quote and I think it’s very true.  We need to be the people through whom God is born again and again in this world. We need to bring God into reality in this world again and again.  

Why?  Because God is a God of love.  Because we are loved by God. Because we are accepted by God. Because we are—each of us—important to God.  We are, each of us, broken and imperfect as we may be some times, very important to God. Each of us. And because we are, we must love others.

We must give birth to our God so others can know this amazing love as well.  Knowing this amazing love of God changes everything.  When we realize that God knows us as individuals.  That God loves us and accepts each of us for who we are, we are joyful. We are hopeful of our future with that God. And we want to share this love and this God with others. That is what we are celebrating this morning. Our hope and joy is in a God who comes and accepts us and loves us for who we are and what we are—a God who understands what it means to live this sometimes frightening uncertain life we live.  This is the real reason why we are joyful and hopeful on this beautiful morning.  This is why we are feeling within us a strange sense of longing. This is why we are rushing toward our Savior who has come to visit us in what we once thought was our barrenness.

Let the hope we feel today as God our Savior draws close to us stay with us now and always. Let the joy we feel tonight as God our Friend comes to us in love be the motivating force in how we live our lives throughout this coming year. God is here.  God is in our midst today.  God is so near, our very bodies and souls are rejoicing. And God loves us.

The great Anglican poet Christina Rosetti put it more eloquently:

 Love came down at Christmas,
love, all lovely, love divine;
love was born at Christmas:
star and angels gave the sign.

That is what we are experiencing this day. Love came down.  Love became flesh and blood. Love became human. And in the face of that realization, we are rejoicing today.  We are rejoicing in that love personified.  We are rejoicing in each other.   We are rejoicing in the glorious beauty of this one holy moment in time.

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