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Sermon, December 24, 2021 – Christmas Eve

What I Want for Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Every year in my family it was the same question over and over – what do you want for Christmas?  The answer from every member of the family was, “I don’t know.”  Unfortunately, our gift-giving was reduced to gift cards which more often than not wound up in a drawer and forgotten.  Having a birthday so close to the holiday compounded this dilemma for me.

Several years ago, we, as a family, agreed that instead of giving gift cards because we couldn’t think of what to give; instead, we would find an activity that was open, such as a museum or state park, and visit that place as a family and spend the day together.

When I was younger, Christmas morning was spent opening gifts. Breakfast was cereal and sweet rolls.  We would spend the morning playing with our gifts. The Christmas feast was not the traditional turkey and usual trimmings – it would be hamburgers and hot dogs cooked on the grill.

How did your families celebrate the Christmas holiday? What traditions carried over from generation to generation in your families? What kind of gifts did you exchange?

Perhaps a question that needs to be asked, what would you like to receive this Christmas?

All birthdays have one thing in common – they are celebrations of a person’s life and the gift they are to us? What should come into clearest focus in these celebrations is the shared love made manifest. Geoffrey Tristram of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, or Cowley Brothers, writes:

Christmas is not about the arrival of a new philosophy, nor of a new religion, but the arrival of a person — a person who stands with me and holds me and strengthens me — whose words and actions and sufferings make sense of my life — and can transform my life with a love which is stronger than death.

Today we celebrate God’s ultimate gift to the human race. A gift that draws us deeper and deeper into God’s unconditional love for us. A gift that empowers us to love others in the same way that God loves us. A gift of love that will find its way to the cross in order to demonstrate the infinity of God’s love.

So, what would I like for Christmas? I would like to kneel at the entrance to the holy grotto – the stable offering shelter to the Holy Family – before the angels begin their singing; before the shepherd arrive from the fields. I want to listen to the sounds of a young mother in labor. I want to hear the first cry of a newborn baby in the night, and in that cry hear the whisper from heaven, “It is finished.” Amen.

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