How many have said in the past couple of days, “Where did this year go?” as we gather together today to celebrate the 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve. We anticipate celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Christ, the one who entered the world over 2000 years ago through the simple “yes” of a virgin named Mary. Mary is the first witness, the first disciple, the person who said “yes” to God that made an incredible difference in our world. She cooperated with the Holy Spirit who along with Gabriel inspired her as she inspires us to be faithful. Her basic faith and trust are profound in her response to God’s love, God choosing her for such a special role. She exhibits so many qualities that we can emulate by our willingness to respond to God’s invitation to be men and women, children, teenagers and young adults of faith.
Think about Mary’s “yes” to God and reflect on the ways that you say ‘yes’ to your family, to your spouses, to your parents, and to your children. Think of the ways that you give witness to God’s presence in the world right here and now and give thanks to God for all of God’s gifts.
Today, tonight and tomorrow we can recall one of the memorable lines of Saint Benedict: “Let all guests who arrive be received as Christ.” On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we receive the Christ-child in a new way, receive God’s gift of love as God dwells among us. On this day we welcome and receive all who choose to gather together to celebrate our salvation in the person of Christ, for without Christ there is no need, no reason for this season of gift-giving, gathering for meals, and coming to church. But it is an important time to celebrate the joy, hope and beauty of this season, to celebrate God’s abiding merciful love for us.
In spite of the busyness of this season, all are welcome in this church throughout the year, we are here every Sunday, every day, for those who are searching, looking, and seeking a refuge from the tensions and anxieties of daily life. We come here to celebrate, give thanks, and receive Christ who wishes very much to be in our lives, may we want to share his life as much as he wants to be part of our lives.
Mary, the mother of God, had the courage to say “yes” because she believed and trusted that nothing was impossible for God. May we, too, believe that nothing is impossible for God when we allow God into our lives and hearts! May Christ be born anew in us this year as we look forward to the next!
Happy Advent! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!
Father Larry Hendel