Christmas Messages and Reflections from Area Houses of Worship
By Janet Stoica
As Christmas 2023 approaches bringing with it the commercialism and stress that has now become our Christmas season, it seems most appropriate to reflect on what Christmas was truly meant to be. The unfortunate mania of scurrying about buying sometimes meaningless holiday gifts appears to have taken away what the deep and thoughtful message of sincere Christianity is all about – that is, peace among mankind and the joy that the Christ Child brought to the world over two thousand years ago. In years past, several parish communities in our area offered the following words for many of us to reflect upon and we sincerely thank them for their contributions as they still resonate in the current year.
At The Charlton Baptist Church, Pastor Stephen Nordbye cited a Washington Post columnist, Gene Weingarten, who described the following event in his writing: “During morning commute in Washington DC, no one paid much attention to the man who entered the subway station, took out a violin, and began playing. Hundreds passed by. Some stopped to listen; a few threw change into his violin case. Total take – $37. Unbeknownst to all, the man was virtuoso Joshua Bell, playing a $3 million dollar Stradivarius violin. Earlier, people had paid over $100 to hear him in concert. This was set up by a reporter conducting an experiment -- ‘in an ordinary place and at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?’” Using this most relevant example, Pastor Nordbye mentioned that “2000 years ago Divine Beauty transcended ‘an ordinary place’ at just the right time. God slipped incognito into human existence as a baby born in Bethlehem. Few realized this child was in fact, “Emmanuel” (God with us); Jesus, savior of the world. This Christmas, will you pass him by?”
According to the church’s web page, current Interim Pastor is George Kohl and Associate Pastor is Trevor Berg. Charlton Baptist Church, 50 Hammond Hill Road, Charlton MA 01507. Phone: (508) 248-4488. To learn more about their Mass schedules, please visit their website: www.charltonbaptist.org
Reverend (Chris) Krzysztof Korcz, Pastor of St. Andrew Bobola Parish in Dudley spoke about how another Christmas is upon us. “‘Long ago, God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son,’ said the letter to the Hebrews. God sends His Son to be cared for, protected, and listened to by us. Mary and Joseph accepted God’s hope by accepting the responsibility of being earthly parents for a baby sent from God. They held him and cared for him, listened to his cries, and learned to understand what was in his mind and his heart. They cared for this child and raised him in love. They gave the child a home, and found new life in their relationship with Jesus. The glory of God lives among us; the story of Christmas is told and retold day after day as God invites us to share in the kingdom He has prepared for us through His son. The story of Christmas is the story of how God’s Kingdom enters our lives. We tell the story not only in words, but in the language that is beyond words: by how we live. In our baptismal promises we covenant to proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ. And our example, how we live, is part of telling the story. We are called to tell the story all the time, but it is most urgent not in times of comfort and power, but in times of need; not in moments of glory, but rather in calls for help. And we can experience Christmas throughout the year as we learn to hear and understand the cries of children and adults who live in need, who ask for help. The world associates Christmas with children and not just because of the birth of the baby Jesus. I think one reason we associate Christmas with children is that children are quick to identify what they want and ask for it -- sometimes loudly and insistently! And children are just as quick to show their joy when they get what they need, and their dismay when they don’t get what they asked for specially. Both the world and the church associate Christmas with the poor and the outcast and not just because the story tells us of the traveling family forced to bed down in a stable. People who are poor and openly display their needs. We can tell what they need, because we see so clearly what they don’t have. Christmas is a story about all of us receiving that which we most want and need: love -- a strong, unconditional love. The Christmas story is about how God loves us and that he asks us to be partners in loving people with whom we live in this world. God asks us, like Joseph and Mary, to learn to hear and understand the cries of children, older people, people who are sick, poor, and needy. The Word became flesh and lives among us. May each day be Christmas, and may we tell the story by our lives each day: the story of how we cared for the presence of Christ entrusted to us, by caring for each other and for ourselves, and love as we have been loved. Christmas day is a special time of the year. It is a time when our spirits, bursting with joy, are uplifted towards God. It is a day when the glory of God manifests itself very clearly in each and every one of us who are celebrating the coming of Jesus into the world. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas! May God bless you and your family.” St. Andrew Bobola Church, 54 West Main Street, Dudley MA 01571. Phone: (508) 943-5633. Mass schedules can be found on their website: standrewbobola.com
Reverend Charles Borowski of St. Joseph Basilica in Webster (who has since passed on) said “each one of us has various memories and thoughts about the celebration of Christmas. Memories and thoughts change as we advance in years. In our younger years, most of us I am sure, have fond memories of writing a letter to Santa and expecting our requests to be answered on Christmas Day. For those of us growing older, family, friends, visits, food, and perhaps Church services bring about pleasant thoughts and memories and all of us anticipate the snowfall before Christmas Eve. Snow made the special season complete. As my Christmas message, I would like to share with you some special thoughts and memories which I thought about when I was younger. I remember getting the Christmas tree, decorating it and decorating our outside front door. My special job was to set up the nativity scene. But what if these nativity scene figures came to life? What questions would I ask them? To Joseph: How come you never said a word in scripture? You were always obedient to God’s will and took care of the Holy Family. To Mary: Were you tired after the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and were you disappointed with the place you gave birth to Jesus? To the angels: Were you always the faithful messengers of God in the Old and New Testaments and did people always listen to you or did they disregard your messages like some of us do today with our Guardian Angels? To the shepherds and Magi (Kings): Why did you go in haste to see the Christ Child? Your journeys were long and the scriptures say ‘the Magi paid Him homage and offered Him gifts.’ What about the animals in the stable? They offered their manger. The sheep came to meet their Shepherd. And the donkey, which people make fun of, had the very important job of carrying Mary and Jesus to Bethlehem. What kind of town was Bethlehem like? The name means ‘House of Bread.’ It was the place where Jesus ‘The Bread’ from heaven chose to be born. Why wasn’t there any room for the Holy Family? Couldn’t anyone care enough to invite a woman who was about to give birth into their home? Surely someone had some room besides an empty manger. As for us? If you had the chance, how would you change the Nativity scene? If given the chance, what figure would you like to become? Maybe we have become lifeless figures during the past year and maybe we can come to life at Christmastime and begin to experience a new life of caring and sharing and giving – not only for gifts but of ourselves in helping to make this a better world, community, and family. The above questions can be answered by you. If you ask Jesus what gift you can give Him, I’m sure his answer would be ‘Love God and your neighbor as yourself.” To learn the schedule of Masses, please visit their website: parish.stjosephwebster.com Pastor, Rev. Grzegorz Chodkowski. St. Joseph Basilica, 47 Whitcomb Street, Webster MA 01570. Phone: (508) 943-0467.