Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,
We pause in these last days before we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We take a deep breath. We have spent some time praying and reflecting on who is the one coming. We have spent some time writing cards, sending greetings, welcoming people into our homes or planning to do so very soon. Our preparing, our sharing, letting our hearts be filled with joy are all part of the anticipation of the one who is coming to us - Jesus Christ the Lord.
It always gives me pause to think of what the Nativity, the birth of Jesus, means. Why did Jesus come into our world? The love of the three persons of the Hoy Trinity was perfect and awesome. In that love, God wanted to share that love. And so creation began in time. It became real with angels and then with human beings, who were created free to receive God’s love and to decide to love God in return.
However, because human beings were created free, they were tempted and chose to turn away from God’s love in sin. Still, God wanted those he had created to love in return. He sent his Son to become human like us.
What an awesome thought! God becomes human! Mary agrees to be the human mother of God’s son. Jesus goes through the nine month pregnancy just like everyone else. Jesus is born totally helpless and dependent on Mary and Joseph. Jesus is kept warm, fed, changed and loved and protected. God the Son, Jesus, experiences everything human beings experience as a child. As we know, he will experience even death come Lent and Holy Week.
Why is all this happening? Because God wants to share His love and His life with us. It is not that we could ever deserve it. It is because our generous, compassionate and loving God will not rest until everything possible has been done to get us to accept His love and to love in return.
These days of celebrating Christmas, open your hearts to the gift of God’s love. Take some moments in silent prayer and reflection to receive that love and to say to our God deliberately - ”Lord God, I love you. I praise you and give you glory for your gift of love and a share in eternal life.”
To all who may be traveling for Christmas, may you be blessed as we celebrate the joy and peace of Jesus born among us. May you travel safely and be surrounded by the love of your families and friends.
I am looking forward to the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses at Ashland Ridge at 4:30 pm (December 24) and 9:00 am (December 25). I have asked the 3rd and 4th graders to be “Gospel Players” to act out the reading of St. Luke’s Christmas gospel again this year. Many of them will also be in the children’s choir that evening.
We will be in need of some help setting up chairs and so forth on Christmas Eve day beginning at 8:00 am. All help would be appreciated.
As I am writing this letter, we are anticipating getting the church pews from St. Mary’s Church in New Hampton. They have pews for 400 and that is how many we need for our worship space. We are taking them to Prison Industries for modification and refinishing. A big thank you is in order to the St. Luke’s Knights of Columbus and other parishioners for their help in getting the pews moved.
As you finish your pause before the celebration of the birth of Jesus, may you be blessed with the joy the angels and shepherds knew on that first Christmas Eve. Merry almost Christmas!
Fr. Larry Hoffmann