On behalf of St. Mark’s, I want to wish everyone a very blessed Christmas. I am writing this to you after the choir’s splendid Christmas Lessons and Carols service. The choir did a superb job, the reception after the service was a festive affair, the readers proclaimed the lessons eloquently, and the acolytes served with precision. But more than all of this, so many of you mentioned how much you enjoyed the service. We had several visitors from other churches, and it was good to welcome them to St. Mark’s. I very much look forward to our Christmas Eve and Day masses.
This past week several people have been busy preparing the church for Christmas. Volunteers started gathering last Sunday evening after evensong, and this work of preparing the church continues through tomorrow morning. Volunteers will be gathering to do the final touches, such as setting up for the high masses, the refreshing of the candles, and the cleaning of the votives. I also want to thank those who prepared all the Christmas goodie bags for St. Nicholas’ visit to the preschool this past Friday. The children were so delighted to receive the treats, and many of them showed their gifts with pride to their parents at pick-up time. Finally, thank you to those who delivered the gifts to Responsive Caregivers on behalf of the congregation this past Wednesday, and to those who volunteered for Youth Outreach on Thursday night and Friday afternoon. I know that everyone has their own Christmas celebrations to prepare, so your generosity of time is quite remarkable.
This past Thursday night at the Advent Bible study we focused on chapter 2 of St. Luke’s Gospel - the Christmas story that we shall hear at the Midnight Mass. We were struck by how subversive the Christmas Gospel is. We tend to make the Christmas story cute and cuddly, but it truly does turn the world upside down. A king born in a stable, shepherds serving as emissaries, distant kings and sages coming to worship an unknown child - all of it points to a very different ordering of our world. And the world tries to make Christmas conventional, but it is anything but conventional. Materialism tries to take Christmas hostage, but in the end, Christmas will always be something strikingly different from what our society provides. The humble child in a stable will always be more convincing to humans looking for true life. Tomorrow as we worship Christ in the crib, we begin to see our Lord’s journey to the cross. The Word shall be made flesh, and we shall receive grace upon grace.
A very blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones.
The Rev’d Paul Lillie