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A Christmas Message/Reflection!

For 2012

 

 

       Some years ago I watched a television program called “Northern Exposure” about the adventures of a small town, nestled so quietly somewhere in Alaska.  It’s not on TV anymore.  I was often amazed at the character of the town radio disc jockey.  He always seem to say something thought provoking and full of meaning; something that got right to the heart of things.  For example, his philosophy concerning the moose or elk that roamed the town streets freely, as cat and dogs do most of the time.  He gave those moose and elk a status of importance and respect, because as he saw it, they were there first.  It was their tradition to roam about freely.  He always had a wonder of the meaning of life and events and people, especially this event we are about to prepare for very soon, the birth of the infant Jesus.

 

        Of course, the day after Thanksgiving kicks it off as shopper’s streak to the malls and stores at the break of dawn to cash in on specials and promotions.

 

        I guess I also think about the wonder of this event in our lives each year and reflect on it’s meaning for me.  Christmas will always be tradition to me, of how my family used to celebrate it as I was growing up, and the traditions that the family I am a part of now.  Like most folks, I enjoy the Christmas tree, the lights, the presents, the manger scene, the toys for the grandchildren, and sometimes, but rarely (in this part of the country), a snowfall.  Midnight Mass, in my faith expression, is always so beautiful.  The choir sings so magnificently.  The church decorations are beyond words to describe.  So, all in all, I feel pretty good about Christmas (except that it seems to come so soon).  It is a joyous time of the year, almost like a new experience each year.

 

        But then I look beyond the realm of where I now am, and so close to me I am given the vision to see another Christmas, yet one not so really new.  And like Ebenezer Scrooge, I am led to places where I do not cherish to go and beyond visions I would rather not share, except that they are so close to me; perhaps to all of us.  Come with me as this vision unfolds:

 

         This year is no ordinary year for Christmas.  It will take much courage, and faith, and the hearts and hands of many strangers to reach and touch the many hurting people in our country these days, to even see Christmas as something to celebrate.  So many are without an income, without jobs, without homes, and without much of a promise of any change anytime soon.  Those are just a few of the realities we face these days, aside from the constant threat of terrorism, the existing wars, and potential danger of other wars to come about. People are afraid, they feel insecure, confused, and many just plain feel helpless.  And I am quite confident that this has all stemmed from a moral breakdown in almost all venues of society in this country;  from the family on up and including our government.  The lack of concern about what government is suppose to be is alarming itself.  What use to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people is taken to be almost a joke by our leaders these days.  But despite all of that, despite all of the ills of this country and the world, we still have to deal with it.  We still have to go on living and functioning and being present to the needs of each other, and most importantly, we have to realize, perhaps more than even before, that THIS IS GOD'S WORLD, and God knows what is going on, and God has a plan, and God's plan is one of hope and better things to come, than one of doom and gloom.  How can I be so sure of that?  Because God is all good, God is all loving, and we are his children, and He cares for us.  And if we cling to Him, we will be ok. 

 

       We will still have to suffer and be sick, be homeless, be without a job, without an income, but God will give us everything that we need, that is, the inner strength and the courage to deal with what might possibly be in store for us in 2013.  And rest assured my friends, what is in store will not be pleasant.  We are going to have to get off of our butts, and to start looking at the reality of what is going on in this country.  Nothing is going to get better if we just sit on our laurels. Things are only going to get better if we get involved in the process of putting God back into this country.  As for me, if that means offending some folks, then that will be their problem.  There will be more of this homily/sermon, extended into the new year.

 

        Imagine if you will -  our soldiers across the world, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, away from family and friends, in a desperate effort to defend our country against terrorism to liberate and rebuild a nation from the clutches of dictatorship, and thousands have died, and many more will for that effort.

 

 Imagine if you will – outstretched hands pleading for a warm blanket, and what little child would have benefited from such a gesture some two thousand years ago? – little soiled hands reaching for our pumpkin pie and whipped cream, and we respond:  “That’s for tomorrow!” and our vision would reveal a homeless person with us saying, “Cover you naked body fool; you’ll catch yourself a death of a cold.”  If only we would  have known that the cold and the streets and the lack of food was his/her death.  If only we would have given them some clothes.

 

 Betrayed by disguise and ourselves revealed, we must contend with a heavier burden.  Still entranced by this vision we venture on.  She is dying of cancer or another dreaded disease, and we fail to comfort her and her family in their sorrow and loneliness; we misunderstood our teenager’s pain and never bothered to look back when he said he hated God (or whatever title one gives a Supreme Being).  Oh well, Christmas can’t be perfect, at least not for everyone.  They don’t really want so much, now do they?  Or is it that some don’t want to give so much as a “little bit?”  So we turned the vision off. 

 

The crib!  Look at the crib!  The baby!  Look at the baby! – for there in that amazing scene, in the form of a helpless child, we see the tenderness of God.  That same child will be helpless once again when his life is snatched from the cross, and once more we will look upon the helplessness of God.

 

Perhaps that baby is saying, “Don’t look at me; they remain with you still; their soiled hands won’t go away; their empty stomachs aren’t getting filled; his pain is still with him; she finds no comfort, but only sorrow in her loneliness, in her cancer.  Did you pass out the blankets so they would be warm?  Don’t look at me, look at them, “. . . for whatsoever you did to the least of my brethren, you did unto me.”  Perhaps we wonder, “Is there no place we can escape to where we won’t have to see this vision?”  The vision is over.  Reality bids, but it is not a vision nor a dream.  It’s real!  It’s real for all of us.  It won’t go away, not even at Christmas time.  So we ask, “What do you want for us to do Lord?” and perhaps He responds, “Open your hearts and not your heads, so that you may know the true meaning of Christmas!

 

        My dear friends, time passes on.  It always does.  Time knows no special day, no holiday.  It does know of love and comfort, giving and forgiving, and sharing and compassion.  Perhaps the answer is to give the gift of who we are; of the joy of being really present to each other, whether here at home or far away in Iraq;, Afghanistan, or wherever -  to be full of the Spirit of happiness and gratitude, of wonder and laughter, and of peace.  Perhaps, to be all of this everyday of the year – that they might know who He is, perhaps this is to experience Christmas!  Blest with the presence of a loving God who is with us today and all days to come after it.  The gift of the Infant Jesus.  He is with us, Emanuel, that through his eventual death and resurrection, we will be a light of this real life to come.  His journey as King has become our journey as servants. His gift of Himself – our giving of ourselves.  What a wonderful gift in the life of humankind.

 

        Yes, we call it Christmas, and we describe that Christmas in a thousand different ways, and it’s meaning is felt so deeply by people of all walks of life of many different expression of faith.  Like a seagull sweeping down upon the ocean is the vastness of this happening.  Even from Santa Claus and toys, sliced ham and cranberry sauce, to white wafers of fresh snow – is the awesomeness of this great time.  Children from all over the world anticipate it.  People stop at some point to embrace Emanuel (Hebrew for God is with us).

 

        Yes! being an invitation to a deeper spiritual awareness and experience, Christmas takes us beyond concerns of ourselves to a new understanding of “God is with us.”  We don’t just extend greetings to those most dear to us.  We embrace all of humankind – for we all belong to the Master’s Family.  Perhaps that’s why we include and take ownership of the poor, the homeless, the imprisoned, the abused, the depressed, the shut-ins, the elderly, the sick, the dying, the lame, those who do not know of God, or perhaps don't believe in Him.  Christmas is not just an event then.  It is an experience, an opportunity to understand what each of us is all about.  Perhaps it is a time for growth in our own particular faith, a tremendous leap of faith.  Doesn’t it only make sense that Christmas is to be lived in joyful worship among God’s people?  That it is to be celebrated with high hopes of peace and love of all of humankind, that peace may reign supreme?

 

        Perhaps it is about the heart.  Is it a giving heart?  Is it a heart that reaches out with genuine love and concern for others, especially those less fortunate than us?  Hearts that are so full of that baby’s Spirit that we too can perform miracles?  That we have the love to reach out and touch?  That we can touch everyone, knowing that as we do touch those who are hurting, those who need encouragement, and those who need a loving embrace, that the Infant Jesus, our King, our God, is with us?!!!!

 

Deacon Steve

December 15th, 2012

 

 

 

“O Holy Night” by Josh Groban

 

 

 

 


A Christmas To Remember



They are waiting for that day -
When Santa will bring them toys,
Guessing what might they get -
Those fortunate little girls and boys.

Some others look forward to less –
There is no Santa Claus for them,
Toys are the least on their minds –
Their broken lives need to mend.

Beautiful clothes they always wear –
Name brand only will they know,
Never to worry if they don’t fit –
While others go naked out in the cold.

People shopping for Christmas gifts –
Many family and friends for whom to buy,
Never thinking of a different fate –
Not everyone has a job on which to rely.

Christmas lights strung all over the house –
Drivers passing by, they are so bright,
The only light is a flickering candle –
Hiding their faces while parents fight.

Tucked into bed after end of day –
Pillows soft and blankets warm,
Kisses on their foreheads, saying good night –
All is safe, no fear of any harm.

Bullets flying in many directions –
Innocently striking a small child down,
Gangs roaming the streets at will –
While the poor little body waits to be found.

Put an angel on top of the tree –
Watch the lights flicker and blink,
Feel the warmth from the fireplace close –
Hot chocolate is prepared to drink.

Homeless person on the street corner –
Holding cup out to passerby’s,
Maybe a nickel or a dime will drop in –
Shivering in the cold so teary-eyed.

These pondering thoughts come to me –
As this Christmas season draws near,
Times have changed for so many folks –
Things aren’t like they were last year.

The one thing that is constant each year –
Is that Christmas is about a holy birth,
The coming of the Christ child for all who know –
That God loves His children all over this earth.

No matter the scene, be good or bad –
This event we celebrate the 25th of December,
Times have changed for many like no other -
And this will be a Christmas to remember!

© Steve A. Politte







 



 

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