This Christmas is one unlike any we have know in our life time. When the world, the Church, and our society has been in crisis what does it mean for us to celebrate the birth of the Savior at Christmas. Often we try to make things as they’ve always been. We decorate, we shop and wrap gifts as we’ve always done. The world is in crisis and we do our best to make all as normal as possible this Christmas.
With so many loved ones and family members not able to join us that we’ve either lost or are critically ill we find it difficult, or maybe some just are staying home and not traveling due to the crisis. Whatever may be happening in our lives, it seems it’s just not the same no matter how hard we try. Christmas can not simply be an effort to get to feeling as we felt before, rather, this Christmas is a time for rebirth and renewal for the whole Church, for the world
Pope Francis has challenged the church leaders and I believe all of us to see in this time of “crisis an opportunity for renewal. The scriptures for Christmas remind us that out of darkness comes light. The proclamation at midnight is a great reminder of God’s ability to breakthrough the darkest moments in our lives through the power of God’s love.
“The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
We must be encouraged and renewed by these words from the prophet Isaiah. The celebration of the Nativity is first and foremost a time of festivities that give thanks to God for the great gift of transforming and renewing our world. In the midst of this great crisis we are being reborn and renewed if we allow God to continue to make manifest His presence and power in our lives. Darkness and gloom seems to be all we can see but tonight we are profoundly reminded that God has overcome and we too shall overcome the challenges we face today.
Saint Paul in his letter to Timothy gives us the direction needed for rebirth and renewal. It is first and foremost God’s grace, His training and teaching us to live and walk in His ways.
“The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope,”
This is an embrace of love. We know that God is love, so godlessness is that which is not loving. This Christmas can only be a cause and opportunity for rejoicing if we can choose love, reject all that is opposed to truly loving. It is out of God’s love for us that Christ is born and takes on our human likeness. For God it is all about love. The message of love is first given to the lowly those living temperately caring for the flocks in the field. The shepherds are the first to receive this great message of Joy. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the day having been called by the emperor to each go to their own town for a census, these simple men are tending the sheep in the midst of darkness and God’s power and word breaks forth and is cause for jubilation.
My message to you and to all who hear this Christmas message in the midst of the great crisis in our world, “Do Not be Afraid” In the midst of sickness, do not be afraid, in the midst of financial challenges, do not be afraid, in the midst of hatred and strife, do not be afraid! I proclaim to you good news of great joy for everyone! “For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.” For today in each of our hearts the savior is born again, we are reborn and renewed by the to great power of God’s love.