This is a picture of a favorite print that I own
by the artist
Liz Lemon Swindle
entitled "Be It Unto Me"
In our parish community we gathered for the Mass during the Night at Midnight. In many places, for many reasons, it is sometimes celebrated at an earlier hour, but we stick to tradition. Our adult choir and musicians prepared us for the celebration with a presentation of carols and music that set the stage. The Proclamation of the Birth of the Lord was made at Midnight and the manger scene was blessed and set aside for reflection and inspiration (our thanks to Saint Francis for coming up with the idea). And our liturgy invited us into the peaceful joy of the events of long ago that we remember and celebrate. But most importantly, our liturgy brings this child of Bethlehem into our lives through the power of his Word and the gift of his Body and Blood. He is present to the world through our gathering as his family in faith. Our crowds were not overwhelming this year, but I am glad for that in the sense that our celebrations were calmer and more peace filled.
And on Christmas morning we gathered at 10:00 am to celebrate the Christmas Mass during the Day. More kids, more people, lots of excitement (especially among the kids over Santa's visit to their house). I love the Gospel of this Mass, (dating many of you) the old "last Gospel" which was read at the conclusion of each Mass in the old liturgy. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." I have a tradition that I have shared in a number of my assignments of presenting each child with a red delicious apple before the conclusion of the Mass. It is a small gift from the parish family to them, as a reminder that, as the apple got a "bad rap" in the story of the fall of Adam and Eve, so now in the birth of the redeemer, the New Adam, the apple has been "rejuvenated". The kids enjoy the apples and it is a great joy to see them come forward and receive this small gift. It is in our children that we are reminded of what the Collect prayer for that Mass during the Day tells us, that it is God "who wonderfully created the dignity of human nature, and still more wonderfully restores it" in Christ, the new Adam.
I trust that your Christmas was and continues to be a time of joy and peace, of love and warmth, of family and friends, and of deep gratitude to the Lord of all.