While we’re getting back up to speed here, here’s a copy of the bulletin column for this coming Sunday. Enjoy as you finish your Christmas preparations!
As the world was merrily going about its way, the Lord was quietly preparing the path of salvation, which was all to unfold relatively quietly on the world stage, in an ancient city in a tiny country in the near middle east.
Christmas is a beautiful time to be with family and friends. Historically my favorite time of year is the Octave of Christmas – the 8 days of Christmas to New Year. They are generally relaxed, people tend to be in good moods, kids are home from school, it’s easy to socialize.
But not everyone is happy or joyful at Christmas, as of course many have lost loved ones, or have painful memories, or are experiencing Christmas alone for the first time. Also, some simply don’t get along with family members to the point of wanting nothing to do with them, and no contact with them. No family is perfect, but the ties that bind are put in place by the Lord. It’s well worth praying about any and all family situations which need healing and understanding.
Mary gives us an example to follow. Given the great news of the birth of the savior she doesn’t sit still and become isolated in a community which would not have believed her (we see later that they didn’t even believe Jesus Himself in his hometown.) Rather, she travels the 90 odd miles to visit her kinswoman who, she has heard from an angel, is pregnant. From this journey she receives confirmation that indeed what the angel has said is true. She also observes an ancient tradition where pregnant women would spend time together in prayer, quiet, in healthy and life giving environments, all for the health of the children.
Affection, wholesome and healthy surroundings, all have great effect in our lives. In 2006, the movie “Bella” was introduced. Rated PG-13, it tells the story of a young waitress who finds herself with child and becomes uncertain about many things. She’s taken in, more or less, by a family with whom she works and is shown a completely different side of life. Far from the lonely, depressing life which modern secular society presents as the norm, the family shows her that what is actually normal is forgiveness, love, affection, happiness, simplicity – even amidst all of the drama that goes along with being fully alive and human. Life itself becomes a beautiful, cherished revelation of love and forgiveness and happiness, despite the sadness and pain that occur in everyone’s lives.
So – have yourself a Merry Christmas. Forgive your enemies and families their faults and failings and learn just a little bit more – as we always do – about affection and the truth of the mysteries revealed in the birth of the savior of all mankind, who came into the world as a tiny, vulnerable child, born of a woman into a beautiful and loving situation, destined for pain, for humiliation, and the ultimate victory over death itself in glory, joy and triumph.
Fr. Kenneth Allen