The office schedule is quiet today, Dec. 28, so I decided to spend the day at home. It’s a good time to write this column, to catch up on correspondence, make some telephone calls and restore some semblance of order to my room in anticipation of the New Year. It also is an opportunity to do what I encouraged you to do last week, viz, to pray and think about the great themes of this holy season — faith, life, promise and call.
Today is an especially good day for me to probe those in that it would have been my mother’s 101st birthday. This anniversary quite naturally turns my mind to her. I have prayed in thanksgiving for the gift of life that she and my father gave to me and nurtured through the years. They fed, sheltered, educated, supported and encouraged me until they died — my father in August of 1977 and my mother in July of 1995. I am sure that their support and prayers continue now for my sister Helen and me; and for her husband, Jim, and for their children and grandchildren.
I have been praying, too, for all of my family, asking God to grant them continued growth, peace of heart and whatever gifts they may need to enjoy loving, life-giving relationships with all who share this human journey, this journey of faith with them.
Earlier today, I chatted with several people who came to the cathedral narthex to enjoy the splendid array of Christmas crèches loaned to us for this holy season by Janet Archibald of Irondequoit. It is always a moving experience for me to know how representation of that scene touches people of all ages.
Their delight spills over into wonderful conversations. The children ask many questions. They pick their favorite crèche. They name the character in the scene they would most like to be. Their parents and grandparents tend to share with the little ones and with one another memories of the past evoked as they view the beautiful display. They describe the crèche they had in their home, where it came from, who set it up each year, when and how they did it. Their visit becomes a special occasion to share family stories, to dream dreams. It seems truly to be a time to bond.
To watch these women and men, boys and girls enjoy the display, to hear them talk about the experience is deeply gratifying. It helps me to appreciate better my own growing up years, and to understand that we face challenges and need reconciliation in every family. It also helps me to respond to the invitation of the season — to dwell on the union of the human and the divine made manifest in the babe at Bethlehem. I suppose that this is because the scene helps us all more confidently and peacefully to accept our own limited humanity. More importantly, it may be because the Nativity event encourages us to remember our limitless God — given the possibility that is ours: that because God became like us in Christ, we can, in Christ, become like God.
That gift of life began in our baptism, is nourished by the Eucharist and unfolds day by day as we express our faith in loving service to others. We express each time we celebrate the Eucharist that what God has begun in us will one day be brought to completion. Christmas is a good time to remember that beginning in us and to pray that by the grace of God we can become more and more like Christ.
Peace to all.