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Rector’s Weekly Reflection

 

December 4, 2022

 

Dear People of God,

Our Advent Season moves us into the second week. It’s easy (and understandable) to get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of cards, gift buying, cooking and shopping that Advent’s real meaning gets lost in the whirl of activity.

We cannot always change our place in life, but we can change how we view it. As we move closer toward Christmas Day, will the days be filled with anxiety, stress, worry and a sense of being overwhelmed? Or, despite the crazy schedule, am I able to see the blessings of family, faith, love and the presence of God made visible through the birth of Jesus? We make choices. Will I choose to let the burdens of life weigh me down? Will I choose to see everything as a gift and blessing despite the flurry of activities?

I am sharing with you a story that was given to me. It beautifully reflects Advent and Christmas’ real meaning – especially through children.

The “W” in Christmas

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations – extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments and, of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six-year-old. For weeks, he’d been memorizing songs for his school’s “Winter Pageant.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there’d be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas,” I didn’t expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment – songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son’s class rose to sing “Christmas Love,” I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row center held up their letters, one by one, to spell out the song’s title. As the class would sing, “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up the letter C. Then, “H is for Happy,” and on and on until each child held up their portion and presented the complete message, “Christmas Love.”

The performance was going smoothly until suddenly, we noticed her, a small, quiet girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down – unaware her letter “M” appeared as a “W.” The audience of first- to sixth-graders snickered at this little one’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her “W.”

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience, and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, and why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities. When the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear: “CHRISTWAS LOVE.” And, I believe, He still is. Amen

Author Unknown

On the Advent journey with you,

Fr. Greg

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