1st Sunday of Christmas, December 29, 2019
– Matthew 2:13-23, Hebrews 2:10-18
– The Reverend Dr. Arnold Isidore Thomas –
In the heightened commercialism of Christmas these days, there are few occasions we experience that celebrate the true spirit of Christmas. The emphasis seems to be on what we might give those who already have more than they need, rather than what we can give to those in desperate need.
This is why it remains important for the church to continually remind the world that the Christ born among us is every child born into the world in need of a safe, caring and nurturing environment that will allow that child to grow into the fullness of humanity, so that the divine potential of all children, regardless of their ethnicity, race, religion or lack there-of; regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation; regardless of their financial or physical condition, or place of birth, may contribute to the good and advancement of all humanity and creation.
This is why it is good to celebrate twelve days of Christmas, to have some down time to recuperate following the commercial frenzy leading up to Christmas Day, and prayerfully think about the needy child of God born in a manger, and how that child abides in each of us.
This is a time when, along with scripture readings relaying the story of the birth in Bethlehem, I equip myself with classical movies and stories conveying a more modern-day version of the age-old message; stories and movies such as Charles Dickens’ “Christmas Carol,” Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and Robert Nathan’s “The Bishop’s Wife,” or even the later version, “The Preacher’s Wife,” if you prefer Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston over Cary Grant and Loretta Young. These are stories in which the main characters learn the greater reward of giving to others of greater need over their selfish gain.
I am particularly reminded of the closing scene of “The Bishop’s Wife” in which the bishop, during his Christmas Eve homily, tells the story of the empty stocking. “All the stockings are filled,” he says, “all, that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up, the stocking for a child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we’re celebrating. Let us never forget that. Let us ask ourselves what he would wish for most, and then let each of us put in our share – loving kindness, warm hearts, and an outstretched hand of tolerance; all the shining gifts that make peace on earth.”
Let us remember that the most important stocking and gift we may offer belongs to Christ. Amen.