December 22, 2019
Dear Believers in Hope,
Young families inspire me. I really don’t know how families make ends meet. Patience must come with the holy vocation of raising children. Overriding fear must also be part of the vows in marriage and bringing new life into our world. God-with-us is not just a pious phrase when parents are given such responsibility for a rambunctious toddler. God is so evident within young families. I see this more clearly as we get even closer to Christmas.
Christmas is near. Now the Advent liturgy takes a turn. The ancient prophets of Isaiah and John the Baptist have been quieted. The prophet that is now center stage is Mary. The focus of this very short last week of Advent is the anticipation of birth. The pregnancy of Mary and the decision making of Joseph show us how to anticipate the birth of the Savior even within our own lives.
We are all waiting to celebrate hope born within our human lives. Recently, a friend and I were speaking about the radical presence of Mary in the scriptures. My friend said that she would probably not be Mary’s friend if she met her. She said that Mary’s strength would be more than she could handle! I found her impression of Mary to be very provocative. In her strength, Mary births hope for us all. I think she might be correct because we have so taken the complex humanity out of Mary and have made her live on pedestals rather than in our hearts.
Joseph dominates this scene from Matthew 1:18-24. I can’t imagine his fear. Mary is pregnant and he is so worried about how his family and culture will view her. Joseph is the father of dreams. God speaks so clearly within him. Once again, I admire the gift of this young family to work through their fear and come to the conclusion that both are truly called to bring Jesus into the world.
“Do not be afraid.” This phrase becomes the most sacred of all Christmas greetings. This phrase should be in the front of every Hallmark greeting card for Christmas. To carry responsibilities of children, employment, food and housing are no easy tasks. Yet, this is exactly where we find Christmas. Emmanuel lies deeply within our human experiences. The Word-made-flesh opens our eyes to truly view the dignity of human life. We remain in God. We cannot be afraid to follow God’s invitation to discover the beauty and richness of God within our human experiences.
So as we celebrate Christmas, don’t be afraid to draw closer to Christ Jesus. Jesus is within us, within our human foibles and in the beauty of our children. Hearts are places in which we celebrate the Messiah. Choices and decisions for hope birth the brilliance of love in the world. Beauty speaks loudly in a dark world that God is here. Don’t be afraid to pray, to find Jesus within your fragile heart.
Continue to dream big. Dream well beyond the ordinary. Dream that wars end and violence recedes. Dream that people may raise children with compassion and tenderness and respect. Dream that lives may mend from despair and ill health. Dream that housing and food may be plentiful for all families. Dream that the every aspect of our lives may discover the presence of God-is-with-us. Dream for the old to fade away and dream for the new to emerge.
Thank you for your presence and prayer in our three parish communities here in Colorado. Thank you for your faith and your service within the Church. Thank you for believing in love. Thank you for financially supporting the mission of our churches but also the various needs throughout the year. Please know of my prayer in this sacred week of Christmas. Enjoy the family tables and all the sacred spaces of conversation and family gatherings. Love changes everything.
Peace to every household and to every heart,