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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

God’s Abiding Promise: Christmas Day

God’s Abiding Promise:
Christmas Day
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December 25, 2019

My Christmas wish for each of you is this: I want that you never sleep the same again because of this moment. I want for you to rekindle the amazement and joy you had when you first stepped into the church’s sanctuary and looked upon the child in the manager and were filled with gladness. I want for you to know the safety and security of going to bed at night knowing this little boy was born to take care of you and that he would hear all your meaningful concerns. I want you to believe once again in the goodwill in others who are making this world a better place, and I want you to have the comfort that there are more people like this than those who are destructive. I want you to believe in angels, in the guiding star, in the wise astronomers, and in all those people who provided weary travelers kind hospitality. I want you to believe that the person sitting next to you is a friend, is a brother or sister. I want you to believe in this little tiny child who was born for your sake. I want you to believe in God’s promises because this is what this moment is all about. God heard us, God came to us, God will always be with us. Always. Everyone. Forever. And ever. And ever. For all. For you. Yes, you. God promises Godself to us. God will be with us. I believe.
We need the stability of God’s promises during this time of rapid change. We must develop our spiritual lives so that we can be rooted and grounded in the knowledge that God exists for us. We have to develop our prayer so that we are rooted and grounded in love. Only this way will provide us with the assurance that we will be okay, that we have nothing to fear.
            Our Pope says that the rapid changes in society will continue and it will transform our ways of living, the ways we interact with each other, the ways we think and talk, even across generations. Life today is radically different from the way it was ten, twenty years ago, but the Pope says that rather than letting these challenges beat us up and make us feel angry inside, we have to let these challenges ask us to reflect upon what we really believe, and to seek out our faith as a way to guide us. These outside changes that are forced upon us, he says, become more human, more Christian.
For instance, Pope Francis in his Christmas message recalled the words of a late Jesuit Cardinal (Carlo Martini), when we said that we should be reflecting on what type of church we want to create. The Pope and Cardinal said, “The church is 200 years out of date. Why don’t we rouse ourselves? Are we afraid?” Yes, we are afraid, and we need the imagination and wonder of the Christmas crib to re-imagine our church today. The Pope spoke against “rigidity” that “comes from fear of change and ends up putting sticks and obstacles in the ground of the common good, turning it in to a minefield of misunderstanding and hatred.”
            We have to inaugurate the change. We have to initiate, so that we can bring freedom, mercy, love, reconciliation, and joy back into our church, and have it be a beacon where many return in gladness because their gifts of their very selves will be welcomed and honored. We have to reclaim our church, make it ours again, and build a new structure based on that first moment we gazed upon our little brother in the manger and we began to dream. Dream on, my friends. Let’s return to that initial moment of our faith when we knew everything would be alright. Let’s us the crib as the starting place. Let’s use your dreams and inspirations to create the kingdom Jesus Christ desires for us. It is not too late, it is never too late, and you are always welcome. I want to see what we can do together, with Christ in the center. Do you believe? I do. Can we do this together? I believe. When you go to bed tonight, I don’t want you to sleep the same way again, because this child was for us, and will always remain by our side.

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