Saturday, January 1, 2011

Stories Are Gift - Christmas Homily 2010

I hold in my hand what could be a hot commodity right now. After all the running around we've all done to prepare for Christ's coming. Could anybody go for a nice hot cup of Starbucks coffee?

If there is one thing you should know about me if you do not already is that Starbucks and I are pretty close. Not like me and Jesus close, but close. Starbucks could even be considered, dare I say, sacramental? JK! And so, to know me is to know that part of my personal story is that a good cup of coffee, Starbucks in particular, is part of my life.

One thing I have noticed over the past couple of months is the message that is printed on the sleeve, for the coffee cup. The sleeve, the thing that allows us to pick up a cup of peppermint mocha goodness worry free! Anyway, the message on the cup sleeve this holiday season is: "STORIES ARE GIFTS - SHARE"

Stories are gifts, share. Stories are gifts, share. As I reflected upon Christmas this year I kept coming back to this phrase. I kept wondering why? Well, I realized that if we are to truly make good about the mystery of this Christmas season, of Christ coming to earth and taking on flesh, then it is imperative that we share our Christmas story.

Now it would be easy for me to tell you to go home and along with your loved ones share stories of Christmas past. Stories of the hours you spent baking cookies or stringing popcorn, stories about family traditions, stories about a special gift you gave or received. It would even been easy for me to tell you to go home and tell the Christmas story that is near and dear to us Clevelanders, that of Ralphie and is quest for the Red Ryder BB gun!

We all have these kinds of Christmas stories. For example, just the other day I was helping my grandmother set up her nativity set and she was describing some of the scenery that go with her set, where some of the pieces came from, and part of her Christmas story that is now part of my own. Now,it would be easy for me to tell you, that as you pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie, to share these stories; but the reality is is that these are not the Christmas stories we are called to share.

You see if we want to make good on what this Feast and Season of Christmas is all about... If we really want to share the Christmas story of Christ taking on flesh... of God breaking into our humanity... of God being born in us... a mystery and a story that strikes to very core of our Christianity... of our humanity... then we are called to share a different kind of Christmas story.

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, every time we share stories of when we've experienced the presence of God whether in good times or bad; when we name and claim these stories we become deeply aware of the presence, the grace of God at work in us and in doing so, we proclaim to the world the essence of the Christmas season... the story of Christ being born in us... the story of Emmanuel "God is with us!"

What is your Christmas story? Is it a story of the triumph? A story of how your faith has made a difference in your life? A story of how your faith has helped you or helped you to help another? A story of how even in struggle someone reached out to you? These stories are gifts that we are called to share because when we share these stories we open our eyes to the reality that Christmas is not a December 25th thing but an everyday thing! By sharing the stories of when we found ourselves on fire for God or even the times of struggle and someone reached out to us or we reached out to someone else; we share the Christmas story, the story of Christ being born in us, day in and day out.

It is important for us to share these Christmas stories because when we do this we proclaim to the world that our God is indeed alive! When we share these Christmas stories, these God experiences, we proclaim to the darkness, "you got nothin'!"

Stories are gifts, share. Our personal Christmas Stories are gifts, share.

And so I ask you my brothers and sisters, when you gather with family and friends, what Christmas story will you share? How will you proclaim, Emmanuel "God is with us." Will you share a story of triumph? A story of when your faith made all the difference? What Christmas story will you share?