Monday, December 21, 2009

Wondrous Christmas

My father and mother never bought our Christmas tree until after the fourth Sunday in Advent. Sometimes, that meant going for our tree on Christmas Eve! Aside from the excitement this tradition created for me and my siblings, it always heightened the Christmas tree shopping adventure. One year we couldn't find a tree at all. It was 1976, and we were living in the Heights at the time, near downtown Houston. I was 10. We ended up driving the family Country Squire station wagon all the way out to a garden store on the Katy Freeway near Kirkwood on the western edge of Houston. We found a few trees as the store was closing. I can still remember my Dad smiling to himself as he paid 50 cents for that 13-foot tree! It was enormous and we had to cut the top off to get it to fit in our living room. It was a wondrous site.

Every Christmas season is a wondrous time. It is with wonder that we, as Christians, look back to see and remember a homeless family who searched for shelter, for a place to rest. We wonder of the prophets' visions of God with us, and the reality of his manger throne. We wonder at the meaning of a king whose power becomes evident in the powerless form of an infant swaddled in a manger. We wonder about the love and joy of a mother and father who looked at their child Jesus and beheld the creator of the cosmos--not unlike the wonder you and I might feel when we hold a baby and feel a sense of awe at the miracle of birth. We wonder at the love between God and his creation.

Christmas is a time to wonder about the light that rests in the hearts of every Christian making their journey along life's road. I wonder how the light of Christ, the coming of the Christ Child to a family so many years ago, changes and transforms how we are family, one to another, today. How do we offer that light to others? How might we live our lives so that when people meet us and know us and work with us... they see that light in our eyes and in our hearts? How does this light shine through actions we take to make the world a different and better place?

I have a feeling that my wondering will lead me to the sure and certain knowledge that being a Christian in this world is helping to find homes for the homeless, power for the powerless, food for the hungry, hope for the hopeless, and joy for the joyless.

So I pray, may our Christmas be wondrous. And may we in our wondering find the infant Christ, and may he give us the heart and voice of prophets, the awe and wisdom of a sage, the joy of Bethlehem shepherds, and the humility and love of the holy family so much so that our wondering changes the lives of those around us throughout the year.

The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle

IX Bishop of Texas

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  • "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • "Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others." Kathleen Norris
  • "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
  • "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton
  • "One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans." C. S. Lewis
  • "When we say, 'I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,' we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the church seldom asks us for forgiveness." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
  • "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." Bono
  • "It's too easy to get caught in our little church subcultures, and the result is that the only younger people we might know are Christians who are already inside the church." Dan Kimball