Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,
This letter is being written Thursday afternoon after the Blizzard. The sun is out and we are in a winter wonderland. I am still anticipating the celebration of Christmas but the letter needs to go in before so that it can be ready for the Sunday after Christmas.
The Feast for the Weekend is the “Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” We have just celebrated the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and have lots of fond images of Jesus as a very new and helpless baby. We can only imagine what Joseph and Mary had to struggle with to keep him warm, fed, and safe in the atmosphere of being like refugees first at Bethlehem and then fleeing into Egypt. Those images of Jesus as an infant fill our minds in the midst of our celebrating his birth.
But the gospel for this celebration today about the Holy Family presents Jesus as a twelve year old going to the temple in Jerusalem for the first time. Joseph and Mary would have traveled with a group from their home and after the festival, everyone started for home and they thought Jesus was with the group. He was not. He was lost - or better, they did not know where he was.
There likely was a little family interaction on the way home about letting parents know where you are and who you are with even in the face of Jesus saying “I must be in my Father’s house.” May we rejoice that families have the loving model of Jesus, Mary and Joseph to use in growing closer to each other.
On Sunday, December 16, I was able to celebrate Mass with the residents of the Polk City Care center with several St. Luke’s parishioners. We joined a couple of other church groups helping residents wrap gifts so they could give to someone and of course, there were goodies and singing of Christmas carols. Later that afternoon, I helped with the OLIH Advent Penance Service and then went to Bishop Pates’ Christmas party at the newly remodeled St. Augustin Rectory.
The newly formed Fr. Richard E. Gubbles Knights of Columbus council #15603 met on December 17. Tuesday, December 18, I joined with the Ankeny Ministers for our monthly meeting at OLIH for a nice lunch followed by more singing of Christmas carols. Wednesday evening, the Strategic Planning Team met at Dave Enos’ home for our regular meeting. Reports about the meeting with the City of Ankeny representatives and with a company called Weidt that does studies about energy use in conjunction with Mid-America. Both were very helpful information meetings.
Thursday, December 21, the Finance Council met for their regular meeting. Friday evening, there was time for private Confessions to help folks conclude their Advent preparations. With those meetings and celebrations, we moved immediately into the rapid pace of the Christmas liturgies and family gatherings to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
May the conclusion of this calendar year be a time to reflect on the blessings of what God has done in our lives. May it also be a time of prayer for all that will come in the New Year about to begin.
Fr. Larry Hoffmann