Christmas Day

First on behalf of Rev. Colleen and I, we want to extend to each and every one of you the hopes and wishes for a very blessed and happy and grace filled Christmas. Please know that we are offering the Mass tonight for each and every one of you and the intentions you hold in your hearts.

Secondly, thank you….thank you for being here, for being able to make the choice to be here to celebrate this awesome eve on which we recall and remember the birth of our Savior into our world.

Third and finally….a reflection on our gathering this morning.

There is something special about the heart of a Mom….biological, physical, adoptive, surrogate, or whatever the case may be…those women who assume the role of Mom…there is just something unique
about the heart of them.

As I reflected on this Gospel, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the that line: “Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart.”

I am not sure what it is….or how it gets there…but the heart of a Mom is one that understands at a level that few others can ever understand. As many of you know I spend my days in a maximum security prison, and I can share with you, with the exception of those who suffer from the devastation of being abused by their mother, nothing will melt a hardened criminals heart faster than the voice or thought or memory of a Mom, an Auntie, or a Grandmother…..there is just something there….

I think it might have to do with the holiness that is born out of pain, whether it is the pain of childbirth, the pain of adoption, the pain of watching the ones you love when they make their mistakes and learn their way in the world….Mom’s seem to “get it” in ways that others don’t.

Christmas morning is not one in which I thought I would be speaking of pain, yet this Gospel seems to force us to spend a few moments exploring it.

You see my friends maybe one of the lessons of the birth of the Christ Child into our world, might just be a reminder, that holiness is not a journey into eternal bliss. Maybe this Gospel is a reminder that holiness, ours and everyone else’s is a journey to the heart of God that is marked by both pain and with moments of joy and moments of confusion, fear, and a host of other thoughts and emotions.

While I have not given birth physically, I have been there with my bride while she did….and I can honestly tell you….I would have hated to be Joseph…because a stable….a small lean-to shed…that would be a less than stellar place to walk through the experience of child birth. And I have no doubt that Mary shared with Joseph her thoughts on the rather inconvenient experience and surroundings.

And being stuck there long enough for a group of ragamuffin unkempt field dwelling shepherds to show up and be the first to visit Mary and the new born child…I bet Mary had some rather spectacular thoughts running through her mind. One of which I bet would have been….are you kidding  me?????????????

Stinky, dirty, dusty, outcast shepherds….and they show up telling of visions of angels…..

Like don’t you think Mary might have thought to herself….Really God?

This whole “angel” thing is getting a bit out of hand….

First you tell me I am going to have a baby….

Then you tell my husband…not to be afraid….

Then you make me ride, walk and limp my way back to his hometown…

Only to give birth to our new born….in a stinking sheep shed….

And now these stinky shepherds show up and say they saw angels too….

Like there has got to be a different way to do this whole thing…..

And yet….

I have lived long enough to know that God showing up in our lives, is not predictable, measurable or logical….

God shows up, and………….. changes hearts.

So what does it do for us this Christmas morn….

I think it may be an invitation for us to explore two things…..

First, to learn from the experiences of Moms everywhere….that often holiness can be found even in the midst of profound pain, mystery, confusion and fear. We just have to be willing to sit in the mystery long
enough to see where God shows up.

Secondly, to learn that holiness is not an experience that is predictable, linear, or logical…..but rather holiness can show up in our lives, from Angels, to stinky dirty shepherds, to cows, sheep or hay….if we allow ourselves the opportunity to just be in the places we are and we are willing to sit in the mystery.

So where ever you are this morning….in joy, in mystery or hurting from the pain of separation or loss, where ever you are, I hope we can all remember…even there the message of Christmas resounds with great joy—the message of the angels—today a child has been born to us who is….Emmanuel….God is with us…

Merry Christmas everyone…