by Ken Rolheiser
Yes, Virginia, Christmas is alive

What appears to be a villain of a medieval morality play dances madly in the town square. “Christmas is dead! Christmas is dead! Your churches are the tombs and sepulchres of God! Where is Christmas?

“I will tell you where. You have killed Christmas! What comfort is there for us? Who gave us a sponge to wipe away the horizon? Where can we go without the sun?” (Based on Nietsche’s Parable of the Madman).

The Bethlehem star shines dimly and the faith of our fathers faulters. A younger generation too busy to hear, too distracted to reflect, but too intelligent to ignore the calling of God, wonders aimlessly on Sunday morning. They are busy with important things. 

The gatekeeper opens the gate and calls the sheep by name. He leads and they follow him. They do not tell the shepherd where to go. They follow him. It is wonderful to hear their names called. They will follow even when the way gets rough.

The angel Gabriel was sent to Mary. He called her by name. Mary opened the door to her heart. Time is changed. The Shepherd King is born. He is Love incarnate. All agree that He is more suited to rule than even a philosopher king.

Jesus stands at the door, which is overgrown with weeds. The rusted handle looks unworkable. There is no response to his knocking. He waits.

“Look, I am standing at the door and knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in and share his meal, side by side with him.” (Revelations 3:20). 

We are too intelligent to ignore the call. There is a hunger all around us. Last Christmas I tried to take my grandchildren to a Christmas Eve service. The huge church was too crowded to enter. The basement was too crowded for them to see anything! Many are hearing the call.

I tried to see my grandchildren in a Christmas pageant. Through the overflow crowd, in the distance, I believe I saw my granddaughter on the stage. A thousand people is a lot of people in a building.

Covid-19 closed many churches for Easter. The faithful struggled to bring God into their homes. Jesus stands knocking at the door. The devil is jubilant when we do not answer, even though Jesus calls our name.

The struggle to shut down Christmas continues. Holiday sales soar. Many insist, “Be sure to say Seasons Greetings.” But the Angels will not be silenced! The Christmas miracle stirs in our hearts.

“Glory to God in the highest heaven!” Heavenly peace descends to open hearts. Strains of Joy to the World break through the darkness. The magic of Christmas memories breaks through our hardened hearts. It is a Holy Night.

As we pause to listen, memories of Christmas past bless us. Grandfather and Grandmother! Is that my Mom? My Dad? Is that--? My eyes grow moist.

There is a knock at the door?

(500 words)