Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Tradition

Women of Faith:
Merry Christmas!

As we prepare today for another family gathering I was thinking about the traditions, past and present, that we will have celebrated or been reminded of this Christmas season:

The imaginative decorating by children (young and old) of Christmas cookies, making and eating bean soup and oyster stew, placing Baby Jesus in the manager, eating an apple from Grandma and Grandpa Svoboda, driving to see Christmas lights, searching the bottom of the stocking, attending Christmas mass together, driving home thru a winter wonderland of snow (which we missed this year, and then praised that we missed), attending loud family gatherings and singing (in prayer-Silent Night; with joyfulness-the twelve days of Christmas; and nostalgically-Czech carols), and taking a family picture.

These traditions were started 2011 years ago at the birth of Our Lord in Bethlehem: a family who said yes to God and then protected their spouse and child at a great sacrifice; who had a simple home with simple food and simple belongings; who received gifts brought by earthly kings; who’s good news was spread with great joy by the angels; and who by the light of a star (the Spirit) guides us and gave us the mass—as in Christ.mass.
And then I wondered how well I was doing at keeping the true focus of the traditions of Christmas?

Do my traditions reflect Mary unselfishly saying “yes” to God—even though it could have cost her life(the penalty for adultery was to be stoned to death); Joseph, who protected his wife, Mary, by trusting her—even though it cost him his own prideful reputation; or the innkeepers with “no room” keeping my belongings for my own needs)? Am I happy with the simplicity of swaddling clothes and a manager for a bed? Do I spread the good news like the angels with rejoicing and gladness? Do I follow the three kings’ example by giving everything and protecting the life of every child, as they did Jesus from Herod?

And am I like today’s feast day saint, St. Stephen, the first martyr, who when he was laughed at for speaking of Jesus, and who kept his focus turned upwards: “But he, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." Acts 6: 8-10

Dear God: Thank you for giving us Jesus, Your son, our Savior and Redeemer, to light the way, to guide us and to open the heavens for us. May we each be more like Mary, unselfish; more like Joseph, protective of life; more like the angels, spreading the good news; and more like the kings, giving up our possessions to those in need. Thank you for the traditions inspired by the Nativity scene. Amen.

May your family’s traditions of Christmas give you peace and joy, and fill your hearts and homes with the love of Christ,


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