Ask any child what they love about Christmas and they will tell you, “presents.” Ask any adult and the answer is most likely “giving presents.” Other common answers are family and friends. No matter the answer, Christmas is a child’s holiday. Whether we are giving or receiving presents, it stirs up the earliest happiest memories in us. These are memories of love, hope, peace, and joy.
Christmas shaped my spirituality. As a child I resonated with Christmas much sooner than I understood the Resurrection. If Christmas was about the birth of the baby Jesus, then the joy I felt at Christmas must be from God. As a child, the joy was powerful. As a priest, I am far more connected to Grace theology, than guilt. I know there is pain and heartbreak in the world. Yes, Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Yes, we are saved from our own faults through Jesus Christ. The Resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith and identity. We all need redemption.
Christmas is at the heart of my spirituality and it is deeper than the Resurrection. The joy of being loved by God is stronger than any guilt I feel. My ministry can be defined this way: God loves you, and I am going to prove it. The proof comes in love, hope, peace, and joy. These are Christmas words.
My Christmas prayer is for everyone to find love, hope, peace, and joy. The place to find it is at church. Come to service on Christmas Eve. Come hear the Scriptures read and the Gospel preached. Sing the carols with us. May your heart be filled with Christmas spirit. May your Christmas joy be holy!
Merry Christmas, Paul+