St John's Q&A

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What would you say in a Christmas homily?

I have been praying about my Christmas homilies for a little while now, and feel confident with what the Spirit has been preparing me to say. But, I thought it would be good to ask the group at Bible Study last night to give me some more ideas for the homilies. I asked, ‘what would you say to those who come to Church only a couple of times a year?’ It was a fruitful exercise with some insightful answers. A main point of the group was to stress what God does for us, namely Christ’s birth. Christmas is an event that celebrates a gift from God, but we should regularly celebrate the blessings that God gives us throughout the year.

I had been already thinking this, mainly with the idea that people want to be inspired. The best way to “win over” any of the “Christmas-Easter” Catholics might be through inspiration. Certainly, an inspired (i.e., from the Spirit) idea or thought that will stick with them might help to convert their hearts or minds. But, I find it is inspiring stories which give people images of living the faith that bear the most fruit. It’s pretty much like St. Jerome said about the saints: “the saints are to the Gospel what sung music is to written music”. In other words, the lives of the saints sing the Gospel, and the Gospel comes to life so much more through living examples.

So, my hope is to present some stories from (the saints at) St Andrew’s in the past year, and how God has been with us and giving to us. Some cool things have been happening! The hope is that people will be inspired to be a regular part of the scene here, a community that is experiencing the presence and generosity of God on a regular basis.

How about you bloggers: what would you say in a Christmas homily? Would you start off with a joke or cute story (like # 1 below)? Would you tell an inspiring story or stories (like #2 and #3 below)? What would be your main point about Christmas / Christ’s birth (like #4 below)?

1) My daughter asked me where she came from. We sat down and I gave her an age appropriate response that included marriage, an expression of love, and a baby growing in a mother’s womb, etc. When I asked if she had any questions, and she said, “Kind of- I need to know where I came from.” She showed me a school paper that outlined a new assignment- a cultural family history. “Where she came from” was supposed to be Italy, Ireland or Poland.

2) There was an athlete who had cancer and had one leg amputated when he was 1-1/2 yrs old. Of course, his parents were distraught, but only one day after his surgery, the mother awoke in his hospital room to see him grinning at her from his crib as he was standing on his one leg. Several years later, his friends began playing soccer, and he too wanted to play soccer. Everyone was nervous as they watched this young kid play while wearing modified crutches. He became the leading scorer on his soccer team (and the footage of him playing was amazing). The next year, his friends began baseball. He played catcher and learned to crouch on one leg. Then too, he became the leading scorer (and I held my breath at the footage of him sliding into home plate). The next year- flag football. Can you guess? He became the quarterback. When he was asked about how he knew he could do all of these things, he responded, “I trust that the good Lord will give me the strength to use my abilities instead of worrying about my disabilities.” His faith was about knowing that God would give him all that he needed. This athlete was 8 yrs old.

3) A few days ago, I met a 5-year old little boy at my place of work and spent a short period of time with him. This child had apparent hand, leg and feet malformations. Each of his hands had only four fingers and each hand curved somewhat inward. He also walked with an unusual gait and was considerably smaller in size for his age. In the course of our time together I had to take him through a building and down 2 sizable sets of stairs. On our way down, I noticed that he used his hands as hooks almost, wrapping them around the banister and lowering himself from one step to the next. Before going back up, he and a classmate began running towards the steps, became entangled in one another and fell to the ground. Still on the ground, he turned to his friend and asked if he was okay…As he went up the first set of steps he started off rather fast, and then began to slow down considerably. By the second set, it looked as though he was struggling and might fall backwards. I asked if he needed my help. His answer? "No. I am climbing a mountain."

4) My daughter asked me why we get presents at Christmas. She likes the “loot” but asked a valid question. She said that everyone always says Christmas is about giving not getting- so why all the presents? I should preface, “giving” in my home means doing for others. My husband and I do buy presents for special occasions, but the kids do something for one another at those times. My daughter may do my son’s chores for his birthday week, or my son will read to his younger sister at night, etc. Christmas is the only time of year when I take each of them to actually buy something for each other, and my daughter asked the question when it was her “turn” to go shopping. Here’s my rationale- that first Christmas we were given an actual gift. The way we live each day (our giving) should be an expression of our gratitude for it. When my children shop for one another they set aside the time to stop and think about what is special for someone they love and want to give to. I think it is an appropriate expression of what Christmas is about- being given a great and special gift simply because we are loved. So, while giving is how we show that we live Christ, receiving is an important point at Christmas too.


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