Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is a busy day for everyone and it’s easy to become irritable or snappy, especially when unexpected visitors turn up just when we want to see to the turkey, make up a bed for someone or otherwise get on with our Christmas Plan. St Benedict has something to say about this in the section of RB that we read today (chapter 66).

Speaking of the gatekeeper of the monastery, he says that when anyone arrives we should thank God then greet the visitor in a warm-hearted way, with all the graciousness that the fear of God inspires. Learning to thank God for interruptions to our plans and not just their fulfilment isn’t easy. It’s even harder to thank God when our hopes and plans are completely dashed; but there’s something about blessing and not cursing that transforms a negative situation into something quite different. Gratitude enlarges the heart, and when we make space for others, something wonderful happens.

Mary and Joseph had to accept the disappointment of their hopes and plans for an ordinary family life. Today we think of them in Bethlehem, reduced to sheltering in a stable because no one would take them in. But in utter self-forgetfulness, they prepare for the birth of Christ; and when he is born, they welcome a succession of strangers, from smelly shepherds to daunting Magi. Here, surely, is an example of what it means to welcome God into one’s life, not as we would but as he would. May Mary and Joseph help us to welcome God into our lives today.

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6 thoughts on “Christmas Eve”

  1. Amen, amen, amen!

    Shaking off the ‘grumblies’ here and rededicating my busy Christmas Eve day to the practice of ‘welcoming God’. Inspiriting words. Thank you, so much.

    Wishing a blessed Christmas to you and all your visitors, online and in monastery.

  2. So agree about gratitude ~ was thinking about that in the car today after I wasted time & petrol on a fruitless welly search (actually found some nice ones later at the garden centre) Now my feet can stay dry on dog walks once again.
    My Bible notes this week also mentioned this, so very timely reading this tonight!
    (Alice sends Duncan Christmas wishes) x

    • Thank you, everyone, for your kind comments and good wishes. Duncan wishes me to say that just because dogs are not mentioned in the Christmas story, there is no reason to believe they were not present. What self-respecting shepherd would have turned up without his dog? Had he (Duncan) been present, he would have knelt along with all the other animals. May you all have a very happy Christmas.

  3. I was quite taken by the admonition, if I may use the term, to be grateful for interruptions or complete derailings of one’s plans. I look after my 95-year-old father, whose spontaneous needs and requests often interrupt or upend my plans for the morning/afternoon/entire day. I shall have to work hard at thanking God for the interruptions. Thanks to you, Sister, for mentioning this. God bless. Please pray for me. Pam

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