Christmas 2016 – Mass During the Night
Psalm 96:1-2, 2-3, 11-12, 13
December 25, 2016
We are here to celebrate something very holy. We began with a song familiar to many, O Come All Ye Faithful. It is my favorite Christmas hymn.
As we gather with so many people coming for our Christmas Masses, we are glad to see so many people hear the call of O Come All Ye Faithful. Whether you are a regular here, visiting from out of town, are here for the first time, or are returning after a long time, we are glad you have joined us as we celebrate this holy night.
What we celebrate, of course, is Christmas. Many, many people will celebrate this day with parties, dinners, and gifts. All of those can be good ways of coming together for Christmas.
We gather here now to celebrate Mass as our way of recognizing how special Christmas is for us and why it is special.
Christmas is special because, as the angel said to the shepherds, “For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.”
Our gospel tells the story of Jesus’ birth. When we read the whole story in the gospels, we see how Jesus truly is the fulfillment of what God has planned all along. Jesus is the promised messiah, a son of David, and Son of God.
In the story of Jesus’ birth, we hear that Jesus was not born in a palace like one might expect of a king. Jesus was born in a stable, no crib for a babe. Why? To show that He is not some distant king but someone who has shared the same experiences as we.
He is wrapped in swaddling clothes as a sign of humility, that He comes to share in our humanity.
That’s why we have our nativity scene both outside and here to your right side, to remember that Jesus came for all of us, not just the elite. That’s why the first people to hear of Jesus’ birth were shepherds. While farmers are very, very important, shepherds would have been considered as nobodies but God shows us that everyone is special to him.
At the center of the nativity scene is baby Jesus. We look at baby Jesus and see a God who loves us so much to come to be with us to show us the way to the Father. Just as baby Jesus lies in the center of the nativity scene, Jesus should be in the center of our lives.
We do have other decorations that are not up just up to make the church look nice. They do look wonderful and we are very thankful for the people who gave of their time to decorate our church for us.
We need to look at the decorations as more than just “decorations.” They are symbols of our faith.
Christmas trees are a sign of what Jesus comes to offer us. The trees are “evergreen” trees as a sign of everlasting life and they point us to Heaven.
The lights on the trees (as well as our candles) are a reminder to us of how Jesus is the light of the world, bringing us light and hope in a world where there is dark and gloom.
The wreaths by the windows are also evergreens, again reminding us of everlasting life. I just read recently that the wreaths’ shape was originally designed to remind us of the crown of thorns that Jesus wore when he suffered for us. I also see in the circle no end, just as there is no end to God’s love for us.
Just as our decorations remind us of what Christmas is really about, so too does our music remind us of what Christmas offers us, joy and hope.
As we sing in O Come All Ye Faithful, we come to adore Christ in the manger. We come joyful and triumphant recognize that Jesus is triumphant over death and our sins. So we come to celebrate.
It is good that Jesus is born as our savior. We can walk in darkness through a land of gloom. We know there are bad things that happen in the world but today we also know there is hope, there is joy. So we celebrate with joy and will go out into the world to continue to celebrate.
I’ve spoke of our decorations here in your church. You probably have similar decorations at home. As you have your Christmas celebrations, remember what the decorations symbolize, remember what the Christmas hymns tell us, and remember that today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
Merry Christmas Father Jeff. Just want to let you know
I enjoy reading your homilies.
Thanks Sandy. I hope you are having a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.