A Blessed Christmas-With God Nothing is Impossible! Rev. Judy and the Good Shepherd Community
Christmas is filled with seemingly impossible events-events that are, however, totally possible with God. The words of the prophet Isaiah, speaking almost 900 years before Jesus was to be born forecasts the coming of the greatest Light who would be born a baby and called “Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Protector Forever, Prince of Peace” (Is 91-6). God will come to us as a tiny baby. The Awesome and great God of the entire Cosmos will be born into human life to show us how to live, and die and rise again. He will show us how to welcome everyone to God and leave no one out in the cold,to bring peace in a troubled world. Like Mary, who is asked to be the God-bearer, we are told as we hear the Christmas story once again “With God nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37). Young Mary gets past her fears and is open to having this very special baby who will be called Yeshua, Jesus, “Deliverance”. Joseph does not divorce her but embraces her and takes care of her. The baby is born in the space designed for animals, a most humble birth. The Shepherds are the first to be told about this event, and frightened though they are, they go and see the baby and go and tell the Good News of his birth. Along with Mary who said that the hungry will now be filled and the rich will go away empty, they, the lowly and often untrusted outsiders, the shepherds, are the first evangelists.(Luke 1 and 2). Later, the magi, astronomers, learned individuals, or kings, will follow their bright star and find him. And they will not tell the wicked and jealous king Herod about this newborn king so Joseph and Mary will flee to Egypt until it is safe to come back(Matthew 2). How could these humble parents afford the trip to Egypt, perhaps with the gold and gifts that the Magi brought-or simply because “with God, nothing is impossible”. Christmas at its root is the impossible made possible, God made flesh and dwelling among us.
How do we enact Christmas this year with the deluge of human need and troubles ever increasing before us? We do it with faith, faith that embraces even the impossible. Faith that doesn’t need proofs for everything, faith that includes feelings of reverence and deep love. For me, that is a faith that makes me want to bow down on my knees and say “thank you God!” and it is now and always has been the people of God that have taught me this faith. Fourteen year old Keeondra saved her money and bought her Pastors two little ceramic snowmen this Christmas, one had the word “faith” on it, the other “peace” She explained in her hand-made card that “the church was where people found peace” and that the faith of the pastors grows faith in the people “who may not know God without it”, and that is how she chose those snowmen for us. Keeondra is on the right in the picture on the right below. She is with her youngest sister Jakeriya and her brother Quay who nearly died of an opportunistic infection in November 2013, and who renewed his faith in reaffirming his hospital bed baptism just a few weeks ago. His life and affirmation of Life is one of the impossible events made possible by the faith that Keeondra is referring to as she affirms the miracle of faith. Also, several of our formerly homeless people have called and let us know how grateful they are to be enjoying their homes this Christmas. One man, Lloyd has now moved to Maine and married his High School sweetheart and he was able to get HUD housing in Maine after having it here as well. Roger, our first housed person brought a donation to the church as he often does and prayed a prayer of thanks long with Lauretta and Nathaniel during our Prayers of the Faithful. Gary also spoke of the Peace of Christ at Christmas. And the “peace in the church” that young Keeondra was referring to in her card includes having a place to live in the rear of the church for her family of seven as they get back on their feet once again. Theirs is a faith of new life and second and third chances, a faith of the possibility of new things happening. A faith that includes her older sister being the first generation of their family members to be in college and doing well as of this September (on the right in the picture on the left below) .
And so this Christmas-tide we are asked to have the kind of faith that embraces what may be or seem to be impossible. The kind of faith that can see the great Light still among us, that can affirm the coming of the Christ who is with us still, the kind of faith that is for all people and welcomes everyone to the Table. The faith that can take the hopes and dreams of our lives, however impossible or broken they may be and breathe them into live reality. This is the faith that gives birth to love,no matter what.
In our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community the possibly impossible has been possible this Christmas. Due to the generosity of individuals,like Mary Pautz, Ellen and Jack McNally, Peter Lee, Ellie VerNooy, Danielle Nisivoccia, Jean Bauer, Pearl Cudjoe and Judy Alves, Rudy Elder, Monica Piccirillo, Evelyn Touhsaent and her husband Cliff, and Joan B. Volkmuth and Klaus Helf, Katy Zatsick and Bridget Mary Meehan, Phyllis Owen and Michele Nowosad, Stella Odie-Ali and Hank and Claire Tessandori, and special organizations, like the Orioles, a local Social Club pictured below on left, and Gini Beecroft,Tom Rutkowski and the Breckinridge Community and Red Thread Group, Lisa Munklewitz and the Lamb of God Church and Thrift Store, below on right, we were able to give meaningful Christmas gifts to over thirty-five children and young people and over twenty-five adults,and also to serve wonderful Christmas meals all during advent. What a joy this is!
Our Sunday school has increased by six young people most of whom participated in our Christmas Pageant. It was great joy to see them learning the Gospel by acting it out. Here are some of them at rehearsal. After the rehearsal, Niyah,6, went outside by herself and knelt down at the Nativity scene, placing her hands over her heart as Mary did. We caught her there praying and she smiled for the camera. She has been doing this quietly and spontaneously since she was three years old,somehow drawn to Mary. We especially thank our Junior and Little Lambs teachers, Pearl Cudjoe and Linda Maybin for their year long assistance, and Efe Jane Cudjoe for her youth leadership.
One of the miracles of Christmas was that Niyah’s Mom, who has sent her since she was two without accompanying her and her sisters and brothers, came to church to see the Pageant.
The joy and laughter as the congregation watched the Pageant was overwhelming. Joelle white was Mary and Keion Lewis, Joseph. The part of Mary’s donkey was played by Jakeriya Maybin and the Angel by Arnya Jackson. The reverence of the children was most moving. And Santa Claus, (Hank Tessandori) paid us a visit that caused squeals of delight.
These young girls are holding “the Baby Jesus” and his “sisters” , dolls lovingly made for them by Helen Hearn, a compassionate and highly skilled octogenarian, who also makes extensive wardrobes for each doll.
Arnya,7, just loves her new doll. Her face says it all for the joy of Christmas at the Good shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in fort Myers. Thanks be to God! To quote our wise Keeondra, “MERRY CHRISTMAS-HAVE FAITH !”
Love and Christmas Blessings throughout the New Year,