I greet you as your pastor on this the eve of the Feast of the Nativity, Christmas. On this Sunday we read the Gospel from the Evangelist Matthew 1:1-17, which is the genealogy of the ancestors of Christ. That’s when we hear the priest read name after name from the Old Testament during the Liturgy. The human ancestry of Jesus shows that the Lord completely identifies with the human race, US, you and I, men and women of flesh and blood, failings and all. He becomes part of us! That’s what Christmas is all about.
God has a plan for all creation and especially for the salvation of us through Christ. God prepares and acts in history according to divine purposes- without violating our free will and always responding to the results of human actions according to His eternal foreknowledge. The question I pose to each of you today is, “What does Christmas mean to you in terms of God’s plan for your life”? You see, the human ancestry of Jesus shows us that the Lord was not embarrassed by the “skeletons” hidden in His ancestors’ lives, rather He wanted humanly, to be linked with “all of that” and to “all those”. He wanted to clear a way for Himself through the sins and crimes of men. And so it is with the history of each one of us that He takes upon Himself and overcomes!
On Christmas Eve day we will celebrate the Divine Liturgy in anticipation of His Birth following which we will join together in partaking of the Holy Supper, a tradition centuries old with twelve dishes indigenous to many of our ancestors. I’m sure along your life you can remember Holy Supper with family and how important it was for our grandparents, uncles and aunts to be among family at this time.
As the years and circumstances have changed many of these traditions have become less prevalent as they once were, often families are too busy or frazzled to dedicate the many hours to prepare the special foods. But this year, even though we have held Holy Suppers in years past, we are hoping more people can join us this jubilee year as a parish family to welcome the newborn child. Then on Christmas day we hope all of you will make time to come to Church for the Festal Christmas Liturgy partaking of the precious and holy body and blood of Jesus Christ.
You see my dear people, we all need the Lord in our lives, maybe things haven’t gone exactly as we hoped they would be this past year but let us understand that Jesus Christ will always be there for us who have faith in Him, trusting that no matter what befalls us or what obstacles we encounter in our lives, Christmas will make them better for “God is with Us”!
So please as your pastor, come to Church, remember we all experienced what it was like not to be able to go to Church during the covid pandemic. Now, we again have the opportunity to pray, praise and glorify Jesus and receive His blessings for a new life, a new beginning, a chance to make right our lives which may have strayed. God receives us with His abiding love making all things possible. Make this Christmas 2023 a renewal of our baptismal promise and a time to give thanks for those things which He has done for us!