My Dear Parishioners
On our recent trip to the Holy Land, I was reminded that the word Bethlehem, in Hebrew means the “House of Bread.” We know that the Messiah was prophesied to come from the line of and hometown of King David – Bethlehem. How prophetic that the one who gives us the “Bread of Life” should come from a town known as the “House of Bread.”
I found the following Christmas reflection and prayer, Gracious Lord, Child of Bethlehem on the US Bishop’s website.
Christmas is one of the most important days of the Church year, second only to Easter itself. Celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is the culmination of the mystery of the incarnation, the feast of God becoming flesh (the Latin “in carne” means “enfleshment”). It is a uniquely Christian teaching, the Divine choosing to become one of us. Because of this belief, God is not only Transcendent, but also wholly Immanent, Emmanuel (God-with-us). While remaining Transcendent (meaning we must rise above our present condition to reach Him), He is at the same time Immanent (meaning He is with us as we rise toward Him). Every Eucharist is like Christmas where the bread and wine are transformed into His flesh, His Body and Blood, and, in a sense, He is born anew on the altar.
The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the vigil Masses on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. During this season, we celebrate the birth of Christ into our world and into our hearts and reflect on the gift of salvation that is born with him, including the fact that he was born to die for us.
The Christmas tree and the Nativity scene are popular symbols of the season and a tradition in many Christian homes. It is also traditional to exchange Christmas gifts with family and friends to honor God the Father’s gift of his only son to the world. Having received the gift of Christ, we naturally want to pass that gift along to our loved ones.
Gracious Lord, Child of Bethlehem Gracious Lord, Child of Bethlehem,
As you were born into a family who fled to Egypt as refugees, help us grow in solidarity with refugees everywhere, to know we are all refugees, until our hearts find refuge in you.
As you were born under an oppressive regime, let us grow in solidarity with those whose governments deny them their rights and try to undermine their dignity. Help us work for just governance everywhere.
As it was workers, the shepherds, who first came to know you, the carpenter’s son, let us remember the dignity of human labor— that you share a special love for those who work hard for their sustenance, and toil beside them.
Let us honor you, in work and in prayer, that livelihoods may be secure, and that workers not be exploited.
As you were adored by the Magi who came from far-off nations to honor you, let us bring to all nations the great good news that is your love.
As your coming was joyfully sung by angels, let us with joy celebrate the gift of life every time a child of God is conceived, and honor that gift with our care.
As you were denied any birthplace but a stable, help us to open our homes, our lives, our hearts to the coming of God and his presence in your people.
Be born this time into our hearts, dear Lord. Gracious Lord, Child of Bethlehem, through the cradle of our hearts, be born into our world.
May God Bless You,