Nancy’s Christmas Dinner
In today’s gospel Luke begins the most sublime story of God’s entry into the world by linking it with a human story. The story begins with the names of the greatest figures of that time, Emperor Augustus and Governor Quirinius, side by side with two very simple people Joseph and Mary setting out for an insignificant town in Palestine, Bethlehem, in obedience to the decree requiring them to register in their hometown. Mary and Joseph make themselves available for God’s coming into the world through their act of obedience though it inconveniences them. So often God’s time is not our time and so we miss his coming. The story of Christ’s birth started with the high and mighty but the children of Israel who are invited to come to the manger are simple shepherds who are summoned from their flocks. The shepherds listen and believe and set out to see for themselves the wonderful event that has taken place. Their faith helps them to believe and journey to the manger. Everyone’s life is a journey of faith. We have to believe and journey in faith to discover him. Today’s message of the birth of Jesus brings about a reversal of the value system of the world. The great people mentioned at the beginning in today’s gospel, Caesar Augustus and Quirinius do not know of the birth of Jesus but simple shepherds in the fields hear the good news. God who created this world does not find a home in it. Mary and Joseph have to leave home and find a place in a stable so that God Emmanuel might be at home with us. Jesus becomes one like us so that we might become like God.
What can I give him?
Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’
The gift that is given for us
May we discover Emmanuel –God with us - in our hearts, in our homes!!
Socrates taught for forty years, Plato for fifty, Aristotle for forty, and Jesus for only three. Yet the influence of Christ's three-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity. Jesus painted no pictures; yet, some of the finest paintings of Raphel, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci received their inspiration from Him. Jesus wrote no poetry; but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world's greatest poets were inspired by Him. Jesus composed no music; still Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, and Mendelssohn reached their highest perfection of melody in the hymns, symphonies, and oratorios they composed in His praise. Every sphere of human greatness has been enriched by this humble carpenter of
Luke 2:1-14 (15-20) - "What Was Seen at Bethlehem"
Hebrews 1:1-4 - "No Time for a Sermon" by Leonard Sweet
God's Sign of Love
Reconciliation happened that day just as reconciliation happens this night between God and his children. Jesus is God's sign of his love for us and his power to forgive us our wrongs.
Tim Zingale, Christmas Colors
On the evening of December 23rd, the men were in the railroad yard of a German city, when a devastating attack was made by the British Royal Air Force. Many of the American prisoners were killed as well as many Germans. The next night, Christmas Eve, the air raid was repeated. When the planes began to fly over, there was fear and alarm among the prisoners who were packed like sardines into these freight cars. The chaplain persuaded the German officer in charge to let him go up and down the line of the cars and talk to the men. As he passed by he said, "Boys, this is Christmas Eve and we are in a tough spot. But, if you have your Bibles, get them out and read the story of the birth of Jesus and you will know that He is with us even here. If you can't read because of the darkness, then let's sing."
Immediately there was a medley of response. Some sang revival songs and some sang hymns. Then a rich baritone struck up "Silent Night, Holy Night," and he was joined by others. Carload after carload joined in singing that beautiful Christmas carol. Then something marvelous happened. Other voices, German voices, began to sing the song in the original "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht." The German voices and American voices blended together in praise of Christ who came to bring all people together in peace.
Christopher Columbus, discouraged one day, walked by a monastery. He was thirsty, so he went in for a drink of water. An old monk sat with him and listened to how he wanted to go on an expedition to find another land. Bad timing? When the story was over, Christopher Columbus went on, but the old monk was a personal friend of Queen Isabella, and he was the one who convinced her to finance Columbus' expedition. Europe's discovery of America started with a drink of water in a monastery.
John Calvin was going down to Italy. War broke out and the road he was going to take was blockaded, so he went to Geneva. Bad timing? His time in Geneva made a change in his life that has changed many lives since. George Whitfield was a bartender in England and couldn't get along with his sister-in-law, who owned the bar, so he left. Bad timing? Out of that experience he turned to God, went to Oxford, became part of the Holy Club with John Wesley and helped change England.
What I'm saying is this: God's timing is perfect and purposeful. We can trust Him and make the most of the opportunities He has given to us in His time.
Dwight Gunter, Time ___________________________
Gloria! Christ Is Our Own
And when you finally realize that Christ is your very own, not only for all the world, not only for all the shepherds, not only for all the angels, but when you realize that Christ is your very own, then there becomes a glow in your heart, and you begin to sing the Gloria.
Edward F. Markquart, Gloria!
"No more lives torn apart
And wars will never start,
And time will heal all hearts.
Everyone will have a friend
And right will always win,
And love will never end.
This is my lifelong dream,
My Grown-up Christmas List."
Do you know what Natalie Cole is longing for in that song? She is longing for the peace of Christmas... and the place to find that is in the miracle of Bethlehem. When we go back to Bethlehem, we discover that real peace means being set right in all our relationships. It means being... right with God, right with ourselves, and right with other people.
The Antidote to Fear
Isn't that true for us? We fear life, we fear death, and everything in between. We are afraid of little things like a black cat crossing our path or spilled salt. Or, leaving our home at night lest we become a victim of crime. Or, the fear that floods our hearts as we wait for the doctor to
tell us if we have cancer. Or, the fear that startles us when the shrill sound of the telephone jolts us awake in the middle of the night. The antidote to our fears is found in the coming of Christ into the world. The first words of Adam are "I was afraid." But the first words at the birth of Jesus are, "Don't be afraid."
Ian Chapman, Don't Be Afraid _____________________________
Christmas Turns Everything Upside Down
A preacher tells of the time when a woman, her arms filled with Christmas presents, came out of a department store and bumped right into him. It was a good, solid bump, and all of her parcels dropped on the sidewalk. As he bent down to help her pick them up, she said, more to herself than anyone else, "Oh, I hate Christmas. It turns everything upside down." And so it
does. Christmas turns the world topsy-turvy because it is centered in a baby, and babies change everything! Just watch a doting grandmother or grandfather and you'll see how life is changed!
The Christ child is no exception. This child will change the world! This child is God's son, the one foretold by the prophets. As the gospel writer put it: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God."
Ian Chapman, Don't Be Afraid
A Gold Filled Box of Love
The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, "Oh, Daddy it's not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you, Daddy." The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged her forgiveness. He kept that gold box by his bed for years. Whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.
From the Collection of Fr. Tony Kadavil:
1) Abnormal birth: After explaining childbirth the biology teacher asked her 4th graders to write an essay on "childbirth" in their families. Susan went home and asked her mother how she was born. Her mother, who was busy at the time, said, “A big white swan brought you darling, and left you on our doorstep.” Continuing her research she asked grandma how her parents got her. Being in the middle of something, her grandma similarly deflected the question by saying, “A fairy brought me and my mother found me in our garden in an open box”. Then the girl went and asked her great-grandmother how her parents got her as a baby. “My mother picked me from a box found in the gooseberry bush”, said the surprised great-grandma. With this information the girl wrote her essay. When the teacher asked her later to read it in front of the class, she stood up and began, "I really wonder why there was not even a single natural birth in our family for four generations..." (Rev. Fairchild). Today the words of Isaiah tell us of another non-normal birth. It’s a non-normal birth never before seen or experienced because it is the birth of God as man – Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, as our Savior.
Then, with tears in her eyes, she presented him with the gift she had bought. As he looked at the beautiful chain, he said with a sigh: “I guess our gifts will have to wait for some time. The combs were very expensive; I had to sell my watch to buy the combs!” These were the perfect gifts: gifts of sacrificial love. Both James and Della were very happy for, like the Magi, they had discovered LOVE through self-sacrifice.
"Pussy cat, pussy cat, what did you there?"
"A frightened a little mouse, under her chair."
20) Jesus sells: One never tires of Jesus as a subject. The cover stories of Time, Newsweek, and US News & World Report regularly mark His nativity. One reason for featuring Him so often is that their circulation invariably increases. Born twenty centuries ago, Jesus still sells. Mel Gibson broke all records with his DVD of The Passion of the Christ. He sold nine million copies in three weeks at $22 a clip. The first book published by Pope Benedict XVI is called "Jesus of Nazareth." It quickly found a home on the Best Seller list of The New York Times. Artists at their easels struggle to paint His portrait again. Have you seen Andy Warhol's Nativity? Composers struggle to salute Him with a fresh musical score. Will it ever be otherwise? I believe not. Tell others of Jesus. But firstly allow Him to be born in you. He can't be born again, but we can. (Fr. James Gilhooley)
22) “But I did show up”: A story is told of an old woman who lived all alone. Each year as Christmas drew near she would sigh and lament her loneliness, wishing that some people would visit her. Since nobody would visit her, she decided to pray to the baby Jesus and his mother requesting that they pay her a visit. Finally the baby Jesus appeared to her in a dream and told her that her prayer had been heard and that the Holy Family would visit her on Christmas day. Oh, how excited she was! She began cleaning and polishing everything in her house squeaky clean in preparation for the divine visitor. She cooked her best dish and baked her best cake in readiness for the visit of Jesus and his mother. Who knows, maybe if she pleased them well enough, they might decide to stay on and live with her!
23) “Your God Is Too Small.” JB Phillips authored a book entitled Your God Is Too Small. One of the great reasons for Advent is to celebrate the birth of Jesus and explore the BIGNESS of our GREAT God. The irony of Christmas is this: the bigness of God can be seen in a tiny baby. According to Paul in Colossians 1:15-23 this tiny baby is the dynamic, omniscient, omnipotent creator of the universe!