As the old song goes, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!” With our last snowfall, we’ve got a bit of a winter wonderland outside and we just might have a white Christmas. Here at Church, we’re on the final preparations for the celebration of our Lord’s birth. This weekend after the masses, our decorating crew is going to be pulling out all the Christmas decorations and transforming our Church and Chapel for Christmas.
In this week’s readings we hear all the prophesies of the coming messiah. We hear the story of David being promised that his kingdom shall endure forever and his throne will stand firm forever. This Friday, we celebrate the fulfillment of that promise as the eternal king of all the nations is born to us.
This year has been like no other year I’ve experienced in my lifetime, and I think like no other year any of us have experienced. Decades from now, I think we’ll tell stories of what happened in 2020, stories that generations from now children will probably find almost unbelievable. From March when the shutdown hit until now has been quite a wild ride, with riots, murder hornets, a crazy election, masks & shutdowns, quarantines, online schooling, and all the other things that this year has brought. If, around last Christmas, someone had told us what this year would be like, no one would have believed us.
With that in mind, I’d like us to really reflect this week on how incredible that first Christmas must have been. Imagine that these events happened in about the same span as we’ve been dealing with COVID. The Christmas before, Mary was just a young girl still living in her parents house. Imagine telling Mary all the things that were about to happen. This young girl who was yet unmarried, would not only find herself married. She’d find herself with a child not to her husband, but carrying the Son of God in her womb. There would be a census, and she would give birth during the census. She and her new husband would be visited by Magi from the East, Shepherds, and more. They would have to make a narrow escape into Egypt to avoid King Herod slaughtering all the children under 2 years old, and then they would have to figure out how they were going to raise this child, who was the creator himself. It’s a crazy story when we stop to think about it. Yet, so was this year’s story. As the old saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. Neither are the sort of story we would have ever invented, yet both are so very real.
As we reflect on that reality, if you haven’t taken the chance to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation yet, please stop by this Sunday Night at 7pm to join us.
I’d like to also invite everyone to join us for Christmas mass this year. Our Mass schedule is published on the back inside cover of the bulletin. We’ve added masses to help with the numbers in the Church. Please do your best to spread yourselves out through the available options, make sure to ask any relatives who haven’t been to mass in a while to wear their masks and work as much as we can to keep us safe. While we’ve had a few cases among our parishioners and staff, we’ve not had any outbreaks here at Prince of Peace, and I think we’d all like to keep it that way. If you are under quarantine or have health concerns and are unable to join us in person, make sure to join us virtually. All of the masses at the Church will be streamed. It’s not the same as being in Church at Christmas, and if you do have to join us that way, please know that we look forward to the day when you can rejoin us in person to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.
I also want to let everyone know that the week between Christmas and New Years, we will NOT have mass in Church. I’m going to be away from Sunday Evening through Thursday Morning visiting my brother for Christmas. I will stream mass from my brother’s house for a few days for those who would like to join us online on those days, and of course, I’ll be back in plenty of time for New Year’s Eve Mass at 4pm and New Year’s Day at 12:05pm and 6:30pm.
I do have some sad news to share for anyone who may not have seen. Sister Celeste, one of the sisters of Sister Karen’s order passed away from COVID this week. Please keep her and all of the Carmelite Community of the Word in your prayers this Christmas.
Finally, as so much of the Christmas commercialism shut down, let’s make sure that we really do our best this year to celebrate the real reason for the season, the coming of the savior into the world.
God Bless You!
Father Matthew Baum is the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.