Dear Brothers & Sisters,
WELCOME AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!
It is with great joy that we welcome each and everyone on this special moment of the year, the celebration of the BIRTH OF OUR SAVIOR! And also very importantly, that we are able to celebrate it with you and your loved ones.
Even though recently we might not have been able to celebrate this moment as in years past, that does not diminish the importance or the joy of this holy night. It’s always crucial for us to remember WHAT we are celebrating more than WITH WHOM or what we are EATING OR RECEIVING. Surely those elements are important and it adds to the whole thing, but again, the main focus in our celebration is the FIRST COMING OF THE MESSIAH.
The other day as we were having a retreat for the children, we were reflecting on God's mind-blowing decision to save mankind. After having created the heaven and earth, the mountains and valleys, all the flowers and trees, all the animals of the whole world, and giving his close friendship out of love for Adam and Eve, they ignored God and chose the creation over the creator. Maybe the natural response to such “slap on the face” would be to become angry and condemn them to everlasting punishment. Instead, God creates a plan of salvation to his children, which culminates in the coming of Christ. Starting with Abraham, God “walks” with his chosen people and slowly teaches them that He alone is God and there is no other saving God. The prophets brought God’s relationship even deeper, showing the people that there is no other people on earth that has a God so close to them as the Lord. All of the Old Testament was a preparation to prepare their hearts to be saved by Jesus Christ. Their sins should have shown them that man alone cannot survive, much less be saved by their own efforts. Deep down, sin is what makes man unhappy and sad.
When the appropriate time came, God sent his only begotten Son, the Word made flesh, into the world to save man. The name “Jesus” means God saves! Great is the cause of our joy in this Holy Night. Christ comes as a man on a mission. As pretty as the manger is, the swaddling cloth prefigures his own burial, because this child comes to die and rise for us. He comes to save man from sin. He comes to restore God’s friendship with mankind. He opens the possibility of our redemption. The waiting since the time of Adam and Eve is finally over, heavens were opened once again. Tonight’s celebration is this other step in God’s salvation plan. On Christmas’ Eve we heard the reading from the prophet Isaiah, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” The result of that is “abundant joy and great rejoicing.” I understand that maybe you didn’t get the gift you were expecting, or not the right size/color, or maybe your dish didn’t come out as you expected, but there is still cause for joy! More seriously, maybe being away from family or not being able to be together with friends and loved ones due to whatever can be very difficult. But we take consolation that Christ comes to spend this night with us. This sweet and tender child abdicates his own comfort and comes in the most humble way to be with us. God makes himself one of us so that we can be of them. Let’s keep Christ as the center of our lives. And the best of it, CHRISTMAS is not celebrated only this weekend! We CELEBRATE FOR 12 DAYS!!!! Not necessarily receiving 12 gifts each day from our true love, but certainly being together with our true love, God himself.
I would like to say a word thanking all the people that made this beautiful night possible here in our parish. To all our decoration team, our musicians, lectors, servers, and everyone else that has helped us in ways that are known to God alone. On behalf of the priests and the staff, I also wanted to thank you all for your generosity towards us with cards, gifts, cookies and best wishes. Last of all, all Christmas’ collection is to help our retired priests in our Archdiocese.
Please be assured of our daily prayers to you and your loved ones and if there is anything that we can do to help, please let us know. We are here for you.
Merry Holy Christmas!
Father Steven Clemence