Christmas is a time to celebrate arrival. We welcome the growing light, we receive family and friends, and most importantly we celebrate and rejoice in the arrival of our Savior. For most of us the lights and ornaments, the wreaths and wrapping, the carols and songs are cherished and familiar. On the other hand, there should be something unexpected about this season.
Who could have foretold God would choose a peasant teenage girl from a rural village in Galilee to bear God’s son? We expect God would arrive with pomp and majesty, not as a hunted child born in a stable. Although the manner of his arrival is unexpected, we welcome him nonetheless.
During the weeks leading to Christmas we prepare ourselves so that we might welcome our Lord in expected and unexpected ways. A friend recently reminded me of this fact and I make his words my own. It is in the welcoming of those who are unexpected that we welcome our Lord.
Whether you are single, married, divorced, filthy rich, dirt poor, we welcome you. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying newborns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds. We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or can’t drag a note. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism.
We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters, hunters and fishers. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion”.
If you blew all your offering money at Running Aces, Canterbury Park or Mystic Lake, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who work too hard, those who can’t find work, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.
We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost and wound up here by mistake. We welcome visitors, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts and we especially welcome you!
We are glad that you have joined us to hear anew the Christmas story. The Christmas story at one level is a very simple story. At another level the message is profound. The baby was born in a place that housed animals and a feeding trough was used as a bed. Yet, this baby became the King of kings and Prince of Peace. It is often in the simple that we discover the profound. Yet, that is often the case in the matter of faith.
On behalf of our family of faith, I wish you all a blessed and joyous Christmas. May the Lord surprise you with His grace in the coming days and throughout the New Year.
Fr. Bennet Tran, Pastor