Christmas Letter 2014

Remember how Christmas was such a magical time when you were children? You were excited for weeks, tried to be good just before Christmas, and maybe even caught a glimpse of Santa’s reindeer. What is the true spirit of Christmas, and how can it still be magical after all these years?

Let’s take a look at the first Christmas and see if we can spot the spirit. Beginning at that manger scene, we search through the story going backwards — no room at the inn, the census and trip to Bethlehem, an unexpected pregnancy — there it is. The angel is telling Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” If it weren’t for the Holy Spirit, there would have been no Christmas. The Holy Spirit breath’s God’s life into us from Heaven. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christmas.Holy Family Nativity Figurine

We now see God’s Son growing in Mary’s womb. God himself is entering into our world. If we had been event planners for the great entrance of God into human history, we probably would have gone bigger. God could have arrived on a flaming chariot, or ridden in on an elephant that was 10 stories tall, or landed in a giant flying craft. Instead, Jesus came just like any old baby: he emerged from the womb of his mother into the arms of a family. This seems too insignificant, but it is full of meaning: it shows us what the family truly is. God created family to be a portal into Heaven. Family is a cradle of God’s love. Mary and Joseph received God’s gift of living love, protected it, nurtured it, and shared it with the world. When we let the Holy Spirit bless our family, it becomes a Holy Family. Your family receives life and love from God, protects it, nourishes it, and shares it with the world. Love is the true vocation of every family. This is why Satan hates the family and tries to destroy it. I want to especially mention the role of a father here. The father must protect and provide for the spiritual needs of his family and shepherd them in the ways of God, just like Joseph did.

You might point out that your family is definitely not a “Holy Family.” But wait — look again at the Christmas scene. Jesus is appearing in the most unlikely place: a humble spot in a cold, dark corner of the world. His love transforms it. A humble place becomes a King’s palace, a dark place is full of Heaven’s light, and a cold place becomes warm with love. This is the magic of Christmas and it can happen in any dark, cold, and humble place. In fact, it happens especially in the dark, cold, and humble places. Welcome Him.

The magic of Christmas is receiving God’s gift of love and sharing His love with others. Christmas isn’t over on Christmas day, because Christmas day is where Christmas begins. Just like Mary and Joseph continue their work for many years, so you must continue to receive from God and share with others. Christmas only stops when we stop receiving love; Christmas only stops when we stop sharing love. This Christmas as you gather around with your family, take time to pray together. Receive God’s love through your family and share it with others. Why not save all those Christmas cards you get. Every day take 1 or 2 out and pray for the senders. And may the Holy Spirit of Christmas bless you all year long!