Welcome to an authentic celebration of Christmas.
Here we celebrate not just the birth of a great and holy man but the incarnation of the second person of the Blessed Trinity.
He, who came that we might have life and, as he said, have it more abundantly.
We are not here to remember as much as we are here to participate in an ongoing reality... a reality that entered the dimension of time and matter a couple of thousand years ago.
The reality of which we speak is Godís eternal, limitless devotion to each of us.
This is a devotion arising from Divine love that was, in turn, made approachable and embraceable in the person of an infant tenderly nursed by an adoring mother.
This child eventually grew up to be a young adult... a man for others.
Before the wood of his crib became the wood of his cross, he took bread and wine, and spoke the words of consecration thereby insuring the continuation of his intimate union with us.
In the same breath he asked us to do this... to do what we are in fact doing now, on his birthday, in memory of him.
And so participation in this celebration becomes the unique and defining focal point of Christmas.
So why is Christmas so often a time of anxiety and stress?
I think it is because Christmas has been hijacked and we find ourselves more or less cooperating with the hijackers.
Many of us celebrate with extended family and friends under circumstances and in ways that have little or nothing to do with the birth of our Saviour.
The fact that we canít very well avoid these gatherings is cause for anxiety, frustration and sometimes worse.
Christmas gatherings, family and otherwise, frequently degenerate into tension filled ordeals where people are faking a joy based upon an ideal that has long ago degenerated to the extent that though "Merry Christmas!" might well be the most common alcohol supported salutation of the day, it is probable that that the most common unspoken final farewell is, "Never again!"
Nothing really makes sense unless it is in focus and I suggest that this is particularly true of Christmas.
Christmas simply doesnít make sense unless it is consciously Christ centered in every aspect. Otherwise it is a celebration looking for a reason and is likely doomed to failure.
Once again, welcome to an authentic celebration of Christmas. And may you carry the spirit of this celebration into your homes and into the homes of your loved ones.