Besides amazement, exhaustion, and perhaps indigestion, I am sure you will share with me the overwhelming sense of gratitude.
Christmas always makes me realize just how much Christ Jesus has changed the world. Pondering the cusp, the threshold, the moment when God was born in our midst as a child with all our weaknesses, it is easy to see what a hard, cold, unforgiving place the human heart could be until it was touched by the infant born that day. One need only look into remote places untouched by the Gospel, and lands that have long rejected it, to see clearly the alternative.
I may be weird (okay, there’s no “may” about it) but I see this clearly even when watching silly movies. I caught most of “Avatar” on TV one night, and interrupted my marveling at that blue-skinned civilization they invented to wonder, how do they treat their weak? Their deformed, sick, or elderly? How free are they to act as individuals choosing what is good? How do they deal with their own mortality? And what if someone….sins? And I thank God for that baby Jesus – who does so much more for us than that big tree could ever do.
Anyway. After the gifts comes the gratitude, and I am grateful for all the giving that so many folks did around here. I want to start by thanking someone I have never mentioned before: the counters. Yes, those brave souls who come in the day after Christmas (and every Sunday and holiday) and count the offering, and prepare it for deposit. It is a lot of work, especially at Christmas. We literally couldn’t go on without it.
The lectors, servers, ushers, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion all shouldered their load to carry Christ into our hearts and lives at all the Masses. They do it as service to the Lord, and not to us, but we benefit nonetheless.
From Holy Name and the guys who put up our crèche, to the folks who helped transform the interior of the church to its warm, bright, festive glory, many hands made the work bright, if not light. They did a beautiful job. Also, to you who donated flowers, thank you, and your intentions were and are being prayed for. We saved some Christmas bulletins that list the donors and intentions, in case you missed yours -- or pitched it.
Of course I am grateful to the choirs and their leaders who sang and played and prayed in a way that reveals the nature of Heaven and the inner life of the Triune God. Glory! I ask you to pause just a moment, and check how many places in your life you encounter live music, with real human voices, unamplified and unmodified. Isn’t it a great gift?
Father De Rosa worked pretty hard, too, now that I think of it. But he is young, and it makes him strong. The rectory staff and sacristy crew also labored mightily. They put up with a lot from me – but they do it for you! Thank you.
Thank you, too, for the gifts and goodies you laid, not in front of the manger, but at the rectory door. Yum! Maybe I’m weird...wait, there I go again...but I cannot tell you too often how much I enjoy your cards with the family pictures and even the newsletters.
One of my favorite gifts to get is socks – black, of course. But better even than that is the gift of praise to God, shared and spread among the talents and gifts of an entire community, poured out freely and joyfully for all to behold His glory. It is right and just to give Him thanks; and thanks be to you, too.