And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts. (Mt 2:11) Also here in this house, a lot of gifts have been offered, all in worship of the new-born King.
First of all, the boy has a new house: perhaps you noticed that the stable building for our outdoor crèche is new. Through the labors of Aaron Zajak for his Eagle project with Troop 440, and a lot of help from our Holy Name Society, Mary, Joseph, and the child are set for years to come. What a gift!
A lot of work goes into making Jesus’ real house, our big church, a suitable dwelling for our King. The folks who showed up Christmas Eve under the direction of Elaine Vining and Kelly Weisgerber, to deck the sacred hall, especially religious ed volunteers, did really super work. Our man Anthony Dao brought his own kids, who all work as hard as he does. And our sacristans were just getting started for 72 hours of continuous liturgical effort. What a gift!
And talk about heavy lifting: John Henderson, our choirs, and our musicians put a lot of their time into preparation. Their talents and skills blended with authentic devotion to contribute beauty and depth to our worship. What a gift!
And when we talk about devotion, I have to mention my dedicated and excellent altar servers. Despite their youth, and sometimes because of it, they bring a level of seriousness to this highest expression of our joy. What a gift!
Lectors conformed their Holy Days schedules to meet our need to hear the Word of God proclaimed, as did our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, who contribute far more than you would likely realize to making your reception of the Word of God in His flesh and blood go smoothly and well at these big Masses. What a gift!
You may not think about them much, but the work our ushers do is important. In fact, we could use a few more willing helpers in that department! With the logistics of our big Christmas Masses, the guests visiting us from near and far, and the ever-important gathering of your offertory gifts, they did a lot, too. All sorts of other folks make things happen and you never see their work, like the folks who come early in the morning to count the offertory. Believe it or not, they’d be happy to have even more to count! What a gift!
A few weeks back, you all brought something that added up to quite a lot. For our Sharing Tree this year, you: helped out over 200 children and their families at the McKenna Family Center with hundreds of toys and gifts and food donations; assisted the Missionaries of Charity at Gift of Peace in caring for those who suffer from chronic illnesses, providing over $2,500 in gift card donations, much needed bedding, cleaning supplies, and clothing; helped Carroll House Homeless Shelter in Silver Spring offer services and housing to over 70 men in need, providing umbrellas, pajamas, undergarments, shirts, pillows, sweatpants, flip flops and other necessities; helped over 50 children celebrate Christmas with toys through Rainbow Family Christian Center, and provide their families with hundreds of pounds of food; provided over $1,200 to our own parishioners in need, over $1,600 to So Others Might Eat, and hundreds of diapers, baby wipes, baby clothing and other supplies to Sanctuaries for Life for new and expecting mothers. Not omitting the work of Daina and all the Scheiders, and everyone who turned up to help load all this. What a gift!
I don’t know when or how the child with Mary his mother will get around to sending their thank-you notes, though I am certain they will acknowledge these gifts. Let this count as mine, and please join me by saying something to one or all of these gift-bearers: Thank you!