December 2009

"Tis The Season"

We all seem to have an amazing proclivity for arranging our lives in cycles. Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays are just some of the events that come around every year. The bigger the occasion, the greater the likelihood we will commemorate it 25, 50 or 100 years from now. It's meaningful to remember significant events. They cause us to think about who we are. Important events include the birthdays of prominent people, we like Presidents Washington and Lincoln, wars, we have Bunker Hill, Memorial and Veterans Day, New Years for starting over and disasters like 9/11.

And now we're in a whole season called Christmas. What are we remembering?  You'd think it's an easy question but it's not.  We celebrate Christmas as a church, as a society, as families and as individuals.  Unlike New Year's, which simply marks the start of a new calendar year, Christmas summons a wide range of feelings and memories.

For the church, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, the Incarnation, and the story of a God who cared enough to send an only Son into the world to be one with us. For society, Christmas is often a time to focus on world peace and to reflect on the challenges that face us at home and abroad. As families and as individuals, the Christmas season often stirs our deepest memories of relationships and personal experiences that may be both comforting and disconcerting.

We embrace the hope of the Christ Child, who joins our world, and we hope to fulfill our deepest desires. Whatever our desires are, we join them to the newborn baby who rekindles in us the deeper meaning of who we are as human beings, as family, as brothers and sisters to each other in Christ and as pilgrims on a journey of faith, hope and love.

Christmas, unfortunately, isn't a joy-filled time for everyone. Holidays can be difficult and lonely for some people. For lack of family and friends or because loved ones are far away or have passed on, Christmas is for some a season to be endured. Yet, paradoxically, the loneliness we may feel and the recognition of our own brokenness as individuals, families, society and as church can emerge as the true meaning of Christmas.

We are not meant to be alone, nor are we meant to live lives of desolation. Christmas reminds us that we are one human family and participants in the mystery of creation. The images of Christmas that have come down to us through the ages in art, music, stories and poems remind us of the great hope that was born one dark night in the humblest of settings.

Christmas is about remembering what we truly believe and where to find hope. We commemorate an event steeped in religious, social and commercial symbolism. Take away the trappings; Christmas celebrates the love between God and creation, the Mother and Child depicted in the Icon, ourselves and each other.  As a faith-filled community, we are meant to experience and share this same love.

Memories are not intended to keep us in the past. Memories offer us the strength to accept the challenge of the Word-made-flesh. This Christmas season, let us rekindle relationships with and responsibility for each other.  Let us commit ourselves to an honest and peaceful way of seeing ourselves, our families and our neighbors.   May we continue to see the light of Christ as we journey in a world made forever new.

Blessings to you, and a most holy Christmas season.


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