Christmas is a family feast. We are celebrating the birth of a baby, Jesus and the beginning of a family. Christmas is best celebrated with the family. How many of you here have traveled a great distance to be home for Christmas? I know at least one of our parishioners has come all the way from Australia to be home to celebrate this feast with family. Bing Crosby made famous the song ‘I’ll be home for Christmas – if only in my dreams.’ How many people are there just dreaming, imaging being home for Christmas but are sitting in snow bound air ports?
It is good to have you here, home for Christmas, joining us again as family. The church is the family of believers. But as you know families can be funny. We have happy, supportive families. We have conflicted and broken families. The family of the church contains all these elements. Today as a parish family we remember those members of our family who are not with us, not home for Christmas. We all know family members and friends who are alienated, estranged from the family of the church for whatever reason. But they are still family and we are lessened by their absence just as a family Christmas celebration is lessened, the joy is dampened by the absence of loved ones who just can’t make it home, or won’t make it home for Christmas.
In our family celebration of Christmas we remember in our prayers those good people, members of the family who are not with us to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Probably the most asked question these next couple of days will be “what did you get for Christmas?’ So much of the time preparing for Christmas is around the decision of what to give people for Christmas.
I read a very interesting story recently of a person who was over anxious about giving someone the right gift, the perfect gift for Christmas. A friend of his offered this wise advice; ‘You are trying to do someone else’s job. Do your own. Your task is to give the gift. Let them take care of receiving it.”
Today we celebrate the wonder that God took care of His task. He gifted us with His Son Jesus. A gift wrapped in the weakness and fragility of our own humanity. This son would eventually gift us with his very life which he offered on the cross.
Now how are we to do our task? How are we to receive such a gift? We each answer that question in our own way. We answer it in the way we try to live our lives as Christian persons. We answer it in the way we respond to these questions of Jesus, the Father’s gift to us, I was hungry, did you give me food? I was thirsty did you give me drink? I was naked, did you clothe me? I was sick, I was in prison. Did you take the time to visit me? I wronged you. Did you forgive me? As often as you did these things to one of these the least of my brothers and sisters, you did them to me. You received my Father’s gift to you when you received me in any one, in every one who comes into your life.
Our Father’s gift to us comes wrapped in every person we meet whether in our own families, the people with whom we work, or a total stranger. There we meet the Christ, there we love and serve the Christ.
God did His task in giving us His gift. May each of us do our task by receiving his gift in every person who comes into our lives.