The Nativity of Our Lord
25 December 2020
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.”
In our attempt to understand the great mystery of God’s desire to dwell among us, humans have created multitudes of creative content from traditional hymns to modern pop songs, fine art depictions to contemporary movies to make sense of it all. The miracle of Christ’s birth has inspired many a creative person to create!
And for that, I’m grateful, because regardless of how many times I’ve listened to or watched them, many of these works lift my mood year after year. I guess that’s what makes something a personal favorite, and I have strong opinions about my own top Christmas picks. For me, there is no better film than the black and white classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, which I consider to be one of the greatest movies of all time — end of discussion. My favorite music selections aren’t as straightforward, however. For instance, I love the “Church” classics like “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, and so many others, but I am also a huge fan of newer songs such as “Where are you Christmas?” from the 2000 remake of How the Grinch Stole Christmas
— and yes, I love all three film versions of the Grinch. I especially adore Cindy-Lou Who, the youngest of the Who family, who recognized that Christmas “came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags” (as quoted directly from The Grinch storybook).
But back to the popular song I mentioned, which I think is so poignant considering the pandemic. Its lyrics eloquently highlight how personal doubt can creep in during times of change and challenge as the vocal asks,
“Where are you, Christmas?
Why can’t I find you?”
“I’m not the same one.
See what the time’s done.
Is that why you have let me go?“
These questions of struggle are not new to us or the genre of holiday music. Did you know that some 100 years ago, “Silent Night” recalled the gruesome reality of World War I and the truce that commenced for Christmas Day? Or during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the song “Do You Hear What I Hear” emphasized hope in a time of great worry? As important as it is to remember the solidarity of past challenges humanity has faced, it’s even more critical that we do something else. We must never forget that nothing can eradicate the celebration of Christmas. Because, despite our struggles and challenges, nothing can distance us from the love of God. All we celebrate on Christmas day is evidence of that unfailing love. The often quoted, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” asks us to reflect on what God’s love has done. Amazing. Awesome. Beyond expectation. The birth of our Messiah, baby Jesus is not some distant one-and-done past event. It is our Lord, continually loving us, drawing near, and entering into our lives daily. Perhaps Pope Francis said it best in a December 23rd tweet, “If the #pandemic has forced us to be more distant, Jesus, in the crib, shows us the way of tenderness to be close to each other, to be human. Let us follow this path.“
So, let me echo that thought by sharing one of the last verses of “Where are you Christmas?” as the melody crescendos, the vocal implores:
“Oh, I feel you Christmas
I know I’ve found you
You never fade away, oh
The joy of Christmas
Stays here inside us
Fills each and every heart with love”
That, my brothers and sisters, is worth lifting in song!
A Word of Thanks
- Ok, I admit I’m not the best at offering just one word about anything, but I do feel compelled to offer my deepest gratitude to all those who helped Father Rob and I celebrate Christmas at OLPH. To our amazing parish staff, thank you for your continued dedication to the mission of the parish and for helping us deepen our relationship with the Lord, feel connected as a parish family, and grow in discipleship each day. You have embraced roles and responsibilities that are far beyond your “job descriptions” out of your passion for serving your neighbor.
- Thank you to all who have prepared our Church and Harrison Hall landing for the Outdoor Mass. The beauty of the decorations and extra care in cleanliness is much appreciated. Thank you to the Knights of Columbus, who set up our Nativity in the Church and consistently help with our parking lot traffic flow. A special note of gratitude to Detective Small for assisting with traffic after the 2 pm and 4 pm Masses. Please keep offering up those prayers in appreciation for all our police officers.
- Thank you to our liturgical ministers, who are willing and able to help in these uncertain times so that we might be welcomed and seated with warmth and hear God’s Word and be fed by Jesus in the Eucharist. And thank you to our fantastic musicians and singers who enhance our worship experience. I’m so grateful to all of you for the generosity of your time. I know our decisions to increase Mass offerings on Christmas Eve meant many were giving even more of themselves. Thank you!
- I am appreciative of our growing and dedicated AV Ministry. They are committed to providing a powerful livestream experience for all our parishioners, as well as reaching our neighbors near and far. As I write this word of thanks, I hope our new camera system is fully functional and enhancing your online experience. I extend our gratitude to Brooks Whiteford, an alumnus of our Parish school, and his team for their expertise and installation of the new gear and navigating all our questions. Please consider joining our team if you are gifted in audio, visual, or technology or willing to learn.
- Our continued gratitude goes to Henderson Creative, with our passionate and dedicated parishioners Evelyn and Scott. They have given so much time and energy to ensure strong Parish communications throughout the pandemic. Thank you for helping us announce the Gospel!
- And to you, the parishioner, thank you for worshiping with us this Christmas. Whether you have entered the Church, huddled with family members outdoors, or prayed with us from your homes via livestream, your prayers and presence are meaningful. You have helped us give fitting praise to God, who entered our world and offers us real and lasting hope.
- Lastly, let us all offer our thanks to Christ and lay down our gifts to him. Though these offerings may seem insignificant, but with them, the Lord does the miraculous: he feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, provides a community to the migrant and refugee, a respite for the tired and the weary, hope for those mourning or suffering, healing for the sick, and the continued proclamation of the Good News to the world:
God is with us!
- Please reserve your seat for Mass on December 26-27… Our Weekend Mass Schedule is Saturdays, 4:30 pm in the Church and Sundays, 7:30 am in the Church, 9 am in the Church and livestream, 11 am outside, and 5 pm in the Church.
- On Christmas day, the church is available for personal prayer from 10 am (after the 9 am Mass) until 12 Noon.
- Our Mass Schedule for the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, is Thursday, December 31 at 5 pm in the Church, and Adoration beginning at 8 pm and culminating in Mass at 12 Midnight. On January 1, Mass will be offered at 9 am and 7 pm.
- The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available this week on Wednesday, December 30, from 11 am to 12 Noon and from 6 pm to 7 pm. If there is inclement weather, a sign in the parking lot will be posted and the Wednesday confessions will be moved from the front or back parking lot to the Good Shepherd Room, off the Narthex inside the Church.
- Our monthly Festival of Praise will be celebrated on Friday, January 8 at 7:30 pm, more information will be posted in the days to come on our website at www.olphparish.org
Collect prayer from the Mass for Christmas, celebrated at Dawn:
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, as we are bathed in the new radiance of your incarnate Word,
the light of faith, which illumines our minds,
may also shine through in our deeds.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
In the Child Jesus,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett