Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit
Franciscans of Canada - Franciscains du Canada
Ordo Fratrum Minorum
Everyone tries to find something unique to say for the Feast of Christmas. Writers delve into history and imagination. Theologians dive into ancient texts and lessons from previous generations. Preachers try to find the right combination of joyful news and challenge. Artist seek the perfect colors and hues. Musicians listen for the sounds and messages to tell the story. Not just writers, preachers, artists but all of us try to find a way or many ways to express the amazement of the Incarnation – of God coming to us – to be one of us. This has been on my mind as we move closer to Christmas and try to find expressions for this amazing gift in this very trying year.
An answer came to me when a Christmas card arrived from my dear aunt and uncle. On the cover of the card was a Christmas Tree and it simply said “Welcome Christmas.” Yes, Welcome Christmas is what seems to be awakening me to the heart of the manger stall this year. We have been welcoming Christmas for centuries now and each year we welcome it differently and yet in some ways the same. We hold on to traditions which bring us comfort, we seek light in the darkness, we cherish moments that warm our heart and encourage us for right living. These are good and worthy means. Yet as beautiful as these are and as much as they have been a part of the ways I too have expressed delighting in the Feast of Christmas, to welcome Christmas takes me, takes us, beyond these moments to the heart of the One born we call Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel (Isaiah 9.6 and 7.14).
Welcome “What has come into being in him was life,
and the life was the light of the human race.
The light shines in the darkness
and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1.5)
Welcome a light that enters into our darkness,
not leaving us to stumble alone.
Welcome the child born of asylum-seeking refugees,
who sought shelter and protection
to welcome their child into the world,
who chose life even in the uncertainty.
Welcome a child today not out of charity
rather out of our universal fraternity.
Welcome “Hope we profess,
for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10.23)
and we “will renew our strength”
we will “run and not grow weary” (Isaiah 40.31).
Welcome a hope that is greater than trying times
this year, of the past or of what is yet to be.
Welcome the child born into poverty,
who we encounter in our daily living:
on our streets, in our churches, on the news,
losing employment, not affording the bills.
Welcome a child of God in our brothers and sisters
because of universal fraternity.
Welcome the “goodness and loving kindness
of God our Savior” (Titus 3.4)
who is the “exact imprint of God’s very being,
and sustains all things.” (Hebrews 1.3).
Welcome a dignity which claims all of us,
no matter what, as children of God.
Welcome the child born for all people,
praised by the hardworking shepherds,
adored by the mosaic of magi
seen reflected in faces the world over.
Welcome a child, born for us,
to awaken us to wonder, to love, to life.
As we Welcome Christmas and try to express it in ways which are meaningful, may we be awakened to the awe of this celebration. It began with a birth in a stable, to a young couple away from home who only had each other, faith, love, trust and hope. We do have much to welcome during this season, if we see beyond the shiny wrappings.
Welcome Christ Child!
This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice in it and be glad.
For to us is given the beloved child most holy,
born for us along the way
and placed in a manger
because there was no room for him at the inn.
– Psalm 15, Psalms of St. Francis
Thank you for journeying with me over this past year.
Blessings of much goodness and peace in 2021 as we continue on this pilgrim path.
Happy New Year!
Additional Photo Credits:
De An Sun