Welcoming at Christmas

The days of Christmas are quickly approaching, your shopping isn’t finished (…. maybe not started!), the end-of-year activities at work are reaching deadlines, the tree is not up, the kids have a school Christmas play tomorrow night (… “Mom, is my costume ready?”…what costume?), the toy drive at the church is ready to wrap and deliver packages (I think we signed up to help as a family? …. maybe?), and…and… oh my gosh, the in-laws are coming to stay with us this Christmas. Even amidst the momentary panic of “how will all this get done,” there is an ever-present awareness that we want to be hospitable, warm, and welcoming – not only to the in-laws but to all who come to our door during the holidays. Continue reading

Birth of the Herald

In today’s gospel we encounter the arrival of the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth into the world – the one who we know as John the Baptist. The account of John’s birth follows the pattern: birth + response + circumcision + naming + response. Represented in the structure and content of this sketch are the fulfillment of Gabriel’s words and Zechariah’s obedience to the angel. But it is the last verse that is the center of the story: “What then will this child become?” All the other verses lead up to and raise this question. Tomorrow’s gospel begins the process of answering it, locating John in the story of God’s redemption via Zechariah’s canticle, the Benedictus. Continue reading