Christmas is a time of opening doors and opening hearts. For our church communities, it’s an opportunity to heartily welcome family and friends – whether Magi who traveled from afar, or the ordinary shepherds on our doorstep. My latest Prairie Messenger article is a reflection on this golden opportunity to live the call for a new evangelization; Welcome, one and all, to the Christmas table of the Lord
For all who have been kind enough to visit these pages this past year, from near and afar, THANK YOU! May you and your loved ones have a blessed and joy-filled Christmas…and may the blessings and joys overflow throughout the new year.
The following is written by my friend, Christine Suriano. She and her husband Tony are inspirational models of faith-filled marriage and joy-filled family life. Thank you, Chris! 🙂
Therefore, brothers and sisters, stand firm, and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught. (2 Thess. 2)
I think there are times we do not hold on to tradition; be it home, family, community, church. It may appear “old-fashioned”, maybe even worthless to some. And, we certainly don’t have time anymore. Do you hear what I hear?
I love the times when we are together and talk starts about what we did when the children were young, or the habits and lifestyles of grandparents and relatives. We laugh heartily, and that seems to bring on yet another story that is even funnier.
Much of what we talk about is how we enjoyed the simple things. Not having a lot of money, we made do. We couldn’t afford hotels and resorts, so we tent camped. Sue and Chris shared a pair of clogs. The size was in the middle; a bit small for Sue and a bit large for Chris. Recently, we recounted memories of those who lived with us on a temporary basis. I had forgotten who they were, but we laughed our heads off.
We had the Lent and Advent traditions; both what we did at home and how we recognized the needs of others outside our home. How and why did we keep certain Christmas traditions, especially the tree and the food preparations?
The church was one of the most important places within our family. We shared and cared and were supported by genuine, faith-filled people and clergy. Taking on any responsibility was expected. Many shared and many gained from these experiences. It was a kind of Kumbaya-time in our lives.
Yes, things have changed over the generations. Change is a challenge, right? Times are different and there are some traditions we won’t give up. No matter where our families live, everyone gathers with other family members or neighbors and friends and has the traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner. Our Christmas gifting remains the same. Even though someone might not agree with the chosen charity, it is their choice when it is their time up at bat.
It’s the memories, the traditions that may or may no longer exist, that have brought all of us to where we are as a family. Right here. In this moment in time. They have helped build relationships that have held true for 30, 40 and 50 years.
For all the above thoughts, emotions and memories, I thank you, God. You are forever awesome.
The miraculous circumstances surrounding the birth of John the Baptist had local tongues wagging. First, dear elderly Elizabeth becomes pregnant well past her child-bearing years. Daddy Zachariah is struck dumb after questioning the heavenly messenger`s announcement. After the boy is born, Mama insists on calling him John; the name given by the angel. Hubby seconds the motion, writing his approval on a tablet. And, lo and behold, Papa`s voice returns!
This was no ordinary birth. How could his life be ordinary? What, then, will this child become?
We ask this question of all the children in our lives. A newborn elicits deep pondering about hope, potential and promise. The wee face and body provides only a twinkle of a glimpse into future looks and personality. Changes appear daily.
From toddlers to school-children, individual talents and challenges begin to emerge. As bodies grow, characters are formed. Having five children of our own, we were always amazed at their uniqueness and diversity.
By high school, the first hesitant attempts at planning a future life begin. We now know, from experience, of the heavy stresses placed on our young people as they discern career choices and life`s paths. Who knows at 18 years of age what this child will become?
Through the twenties paths are tried and tested. Some lead in a simple straight line to fulfilled dreams. Most wind through and around different places, providing either freedom or uncertainty depending on where the mind and heart are residing.
Perhaps as our children begin their own families, we can finally breathe a sigh of relief. We now know what they have become! But, we all know that life is full of surprises, unexpected challenges and new opportunities. Untried paths can open up before us regardless of the time of life we are in. I am in my middle years, still wondering what I will become.
As the holy season of Christmas approaches, we prepare to celebrate the coming of the most extra-ordinary babe, born in the most ordinary surroundings. His miraculous birth has tongues wagging to this day. He showed us the blessedness of each child born, the sacredness of each life created by a loving God.
Here`s to all the children in our lives – young and old. May we all trust in God`s loving plan for each of them; and always be open to the surprises along the way!
Wishing you all a joy-filled and blessed Christmas!