Summary: Looking through the eyes of 3 who waited for the first Christmas, we see how the Birth of Jesus Christ meets the "hopes and fears of all the years."
The Nativity of our Lord: Christmas Day
Waiting Expectantly for Christmas Luke 2:22-38
Christ is Born.
Good morning time travelers. At not quite 5am I awoke thinking of another Christmas at another time, another place.
Whether you gathered with others at a creche, or visited one in a Christmas card, or on the tablet of your mind, last night you made a journey back in time to your own childhood.
I can remember well a cedar tree, a Christmas tree my father harvested over 60 years ago from a hillside on Strait Creek in Brown County Ohio. I remember a blue ornament my mother placed on it that was concave on one side, and from deep within there was a silver star with long rays that shone to the edges of that little universe. My mother and sister put tinsel and ornaments on the tree and a silver and blue star at the top. With wonder in her voice my mother pointed and "said that is the Star of Bethlehem."
It was over a decade later that I learned that Bethlehem meant "house of bread" and that Jesus was the living bread come down from heaven.
Time travelers we are this day, visiting again the House of Bread.
Waking in the pre-dawn hours today, I read these lines from Karol Wojtyla, written perhaps in the 1980s. "Before the Crib, with adoring souls, let us reflect first of all on time that passes, flows on inexorably and bears our brief existences away with it. With his divine words, Jesus relieves us of the anxiety of senseless vacuity and tells us that, on the gigantic and mysterious curve of time, all human history is simply a return to the Father’s house, a return to the homeland. Therefore, every single existence forms part of this journey toward the Father. Living means covering a stretch of the way on the return home, every day and in every hour.
For a moment this morning, as I was waking, I thought of little Bethlehem, of a peasant girl and her child, of a Carpenter and his son and of shepherds and angels at the house of bread.
I thought of the Father who came out to meet the Prodigal Son and put loving arms around him. I thought of He who stepped out of eternity into time to meet us.
I thought of my childhood and my few steps on that "mysterious curve of time". Then I thought of you, my brothers and sisters, companions on the journey home. A brief prayer of thanks for fellow time travelers, then an attempt to return to sleep.
Duke the Beagle came to visit me as I drowsed. He wanted out. That done, back to bed.
One more attempt to sleep. Eyes closed, but sleep was gone. But it is too early to rise. Not ready yet for heavy reading, I reached for something that might tire my eyes and send me back to sleep. I reached for a book of meditations and read again from Karol Wojtyla who 20 years ago wrote, "Let us remember that the Christmas message affirms with absolute certainty that God is always present, even in the contradictions of human history. By creating man intelligent and free, He willed this history spangled with sublime peaks and tragic abysses, and He does not abandon mankind. The Nativity is the guaranty that we are loved by the Most High. . . ." John PaulII closed this meditation quoting from John Henry Cardinal Newman, "God’s hand is always upon those who belong to Him, and leads them by unknown paths. The most they can do is to believe what they cannot yet manage to see but will see later on, and remaining firm in their faith, work with God in that direction."
Then I hear the Church bells. It was time to wake and go meet the day and say Merry Christmas to Virginia, and then to Church, to celebrate the Eucharist and deliver this message.
Christmas means waiting. And its not just the children who wait, it is also the adults, waiting to renew relationships with friends and family. Waiting to see if this year’s celebration will be more satisfying than the last. I suspect many of you wakened early, in anticipation of the day
What Are You Waiting For?
What are you waiting for this Christmas? Are you longing for anything? What are you expecting to receive? Are you looking forward to anything special this Christmas?
From the Gospel of Luke, consider three characters who make their appearance in the Christmas drama. One is Simeon; another is the Prophetess Anna, and the third is Mary. Anna and Simeon don’t appear in any nativity scenes or in many Christmas cards, but they are significant players in the first Christmas pageant. Both of these individuals were waiting for something --actually, they were waiting for someone. Mary was expecting great things as the Angel Gabriel told her. She was expecting the Messiah, a baby who would be the anointed King of a rejuvenated nation.