Letter From the Pastor December 25
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” we are told by the holiday ditty that goes on to tell us that is true because of caroling and “fun in the snow.” Not likely in Tucson. But that does not change the sentiment. There are many things that make this the most wonderful time of the year. Outside of the religious significance, I can think of lots of culinary and commercial things that make this the most wonderful time of the year. As a long-time movie buff, I think it is wonderful because this tends to be when the best movies of the year are released. The weather in Tucson tends to be pretty good this time of year. And of course there are the many parties and gatherings with family and friends. These are all wonderful. But none of them are necessarily about Christmas. In reality, there are 2 Christmases in the world: One is all bout the things I mentioned above: food, commerce, friends and family (and a little bit of “Peace on Earth” thrown in too). And don’t get me wrong; I do not begrudge non-religious people their Christmas devoid of religious meaning; I just can’t imagine it.
For faithful people – the ones who find ourselves mumbling “Let’s keep the “Christ” in “Christmas” – we don’t have an “added dimension” of religion to our Christmas. It’s the other Christmas that has a missing dimension. The very name of this Holy Day betrays the reality that there can be no Christmas with the Messiah. We who celebrate the birth of the Messiah today and in this season need, each year, to reflect on what it is that is born into the world: Not just family, friends and peace on earth. What is born at Christmas is GOD WITH US. The incarnation and birth of the Word of God in the world is the final punctuation on the sentence “God is with us.” The incarnation and birth God’s final statement: I want to be close to you and I want you to be close to me. The grace that God gives in His Incarnation makes it possible for us to return to the Father. We need to remember that before the birth of that Child 2000+ years ago, humanity was absolutely hopeless of unity with the God who created us. We were dead, St. Paul says, in our sins and transgressions. The possibility for or hope of peace on earth did not even exist. Peace on earth is not a reality even now, but we can, because of Jesus of Nazareth, HOPE in that peace now! The little child whose birth we celebrate in this season, is the SALVATION OF THE WORLD. Family? Friends? Good Bargains at Target? Sure that’s worthy of a little hoopla; but the salvation and restoration of all God’s creation to its state of Grace. That is worthy of an “Alleluia!” and a “Glory to God in the Highest!”
The challenge to us as believers is to live in such a way that others can clearly see that we celebrate the birth of Salvation. For us to become, by our lives, a preaching of the Word-made-flesh, so that others can come to believe that the real Christmas – the MESSIAH MASS – is worthy of our attention each year in December. May this Christmas be a time in which the Word of God is born anew in you and that you become more and more convinced in Faith that “Peace on Earth” and “Good will towards all” are possible in your life and in the world.