Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

 Isaiah 9:6 -- For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

One of my favorite days of the entire year, is Christmas Eve.  There is a soft stillness to the air that refreshes and heals.  Saying "Merry Christmas," eagerly hugging anyone who seems open to the idea, and seeing the excitement and joy in a child's eyes-- they all bring timeless moments of joy.

This year, we are with family.  It's been three years since we've been home for Christmas, so for that reason and a whole host of others, we needed to be here.  I am thankful beyond words that we could all be here together.  Since we were traveling on Sunday, a Christmas Eve service seemed the perfect solution.

I didn't grow up in the Catholic faith, but my husband did.  His father still generally attends Mass each week, at a smaller morning service.  Both his mom and his dad said they'd go with me and, after some figuring of service times and schedules, we were off.

The formality and showmanship in a special Catholic Mass has always simultaneously fascinated and unnerved me. I can imagine it would be tremendously comforting to those who grew up with it, because they know what to expect and what is expected of them.  Since I never know exactly what I am doing, my prayer on the kneeler is usually along the lines of "please don't let me be an embarrassment."

At this service, a woman stood to talk about "Catholics Anonymous" and how they would be beginning their 6-week course to welcome alienated Catholics back to the Church. They're scheduled during prominent times when people seek the faith of their childhood, especially after Christmas and Easter. Having been to many churches lately where they want a person to take specific classes in order to become a member, the idea of needing a class to be reunited in a church no longer strikes me as odd or foreign as it might have. (A small voice inside me, though, has to mention-- God wouldn't need you to take a class to welcome you back with open arms.)

What made the service special wasn't what the Priest had to say, though what I could hear of it was certainly interesting.  It wasn't the sweet, tiny older nun who assisted with the Eucharist.  It wasn't the Christmas carols we sang, familiar as breathing.  It was the feeling of peace, the feeling of family, the feeling of coming together from all different places to join in welcoming the birth of the Lord.  Taking a moment to breathe together, to worship together, and to stop a moment and remember a truly special birth-- that truly made my Christmas special.

Peace be unto you.  (And also unto you.)

This made me smile.

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