Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Christmas Message

     I usually write something about being an author and ways to sell the books we write.  Today I would like to send all who read this blog the full Christmas message from “Brimstone and Water.” 
     As we face the tragedy of the families that will not celebrate this year I hope on Christmas Day we remember the true reason we celebrate. 


      The final verse of the choral anthem ended after the reading of the Gospel and everyone prepared for Fr. Cragan to come to the lectern and give his Christmas homily.  A small gasp was heard when Adam rose, stepped away from the altar and came down the steps to be among the congregation before he spoke. 
      “Tonight is the Eve of our Lord,” he began, “the start of new hope, of new faith, of new beginnings.  We all know the story; we’ve known it since childhood.  But do we feel it; do we live it in our daily life?  It’s a hard question, and one I ask myself often.  Mary had a baby,” he whispered, “and heaven and earth rejoiced,” he cried out with increasing volume, raising his hands toward the sky. 
      “The Wise Men knew, the shepherds knew by the angel’s call and followed His star to Bethlehem.  They took the journey in faith, responding to the vision; the call from God to honor this little child, this Jesus born to a middle aged Jewish carpenter and his young wife.  How could they know that something spectacular had happened?  Yes, how could they know,” he slowly said stroking his chin in contemplation.  “Most of us would never believe an angel stood beside us and told us to take a journey on faith.  We’d probably think we were losing our minds and try to find a psychiatrist to put us on an anti-hallucinogenic to keep the vision at bay.” 
      “But these men, these Wise Men, the Magi of kingdoms in distant lands came together and shared the revelation each had heard that a King was to be born to Israel, a Savior was coming to the chosen people.  They followed the star in faith indicated by the angel that came to them long before the birth until it brought them to Bethlehem.  It was nothing like today’s journey unto Christ with the Holy Spirit to guide us along the way.  This journey was far different than the freedoms we take for granted to worship in peace.”
      “Think of the hazards they faced in those ancient days.  They traveled through many lands at a time when Romans ruled with an iron fist and travelers were ambushed for a single coin.  And they carried precious rare gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh, worth large sums of money.  Their families must have been very concerned, but still they made the journey.  They never doubted what the angel told them and trusted in God to give them safe haven along the way.”
      “What must Joseph and Mary thought when these three magnificent strangers arrived and offered their gifts.  They were men of importance kneeling beside poor sheep herders before a carpenter and a young mother with a newborn child held close to her breast among the smells of oxen and sheep.  Yet they knew something greater than anything on earth had happened, and it was embodied in this one helpless child.  So they gave the only gifts they knew how to give in gratitude for the gift of love that was given that night in a lowly stable where Jesus slept in a manger.”
      “And after they had paid homage to the child and his mother and father, they risked their lives again to defy Harrod, ruler of Judea.  They did not return to his palace and tell where Jesus lay as he had told them to do during their visit of respect to the ruler of this kingdom.  The angel appeared to them again and warned that Harrod had evil in his heart and would destroy the baby Jesus, the Messiah to all the nations.  They took another route and quietly left for their own countries with the knowledge that they had been allowed to honor the babe that was to save the tribes of Israel and bring hope to the Gentiles.”
     “When morning dawns later today we will exchange the gifts of Christmas with friends and loved ones.   Many will be forgotten before the first blossom announces the arrival of another spring and the gift of sacrifice the child we celebrate tonight gave for us all on that first Good Friday.  Others will be remembered for a lifetime because they are given in love with a deep meaning to the giver and receiver.  But when morning dawns on this special day, before the first gift is unwrapped, I ask you to stop and reflect for a moment about the Wise Men and why they gave their gifts, gifts to a newborn child, a child named Jesus.  Mary had a baby,” he softly said, “and heaven and earth rejoiced.”

I wish all a Merry Christmas and Happy and Prosperous New Year.