My Christmas Wish List Letter

A number of people have asked for the text of my Christmas Wish List Letter from my homily on Sunday, December 5 - so here it is!  You can watch this in a video posted here.
I love the season of Advent! And I try to “keep it” as a time of preparation, doing everything I can not to celebrate Christmas - before it gets here. But with the whole world “going Christmas” all around me – it’s not easy – and sometimes, I just give in! 
Haul out the holly! Put up a tree before my spirits fall again. Fill up the stockings! I may be rushing things but “Deck the halls” again, now! For we need a little Christmas, right this very minute, Carols in the windows, carols at the spinet. Yes, we need a little Christmas, right this very minute, We need a little Christmas now! 
 And I knoooow I’m supposed to wait - but waiting isn’t always easy. It’s not easy for kids! And it’s not easy for many adults. Waiting for Christmas isn't easy even if you're only waiting for Christmas to be OVER!  And besides all that, if you follow the news these days then you know we really do need a little Christmas here in the United States and all around the world - and the sooner the better!  
So, I’ve started writing my “What I Want for Christmas” letter but I don’t write to Santa Claus - I go right to the top – to God - the giver of all good gifts! So I thought I’d share with you the first draft of this year’s letter… 
Dear God, 
I “need a little Christmas” and I’m not sure I can wait for December 25 to arrive. I don’t mean to be impatient, but I need a little Christmas “right this very minute” – just like the song says. So… here’s what I want for Christmas, Lord… 
• I want PEACE, peace on earth and I want lots of it - and I want it everywhere. • I want peace in every place where daily life is threatened and held hostage by terrorism, oppression, violence and war. • I want peace for our troops who stand in harm’s way. And I want an end to any war not worth waging. • And I want peace in our city streets and in our homes - and in our schools, Lord, and at malls, in churches and temples in office buildings - wherever people gather. 
 • And I want the peace that would come with the end of the pandemic, with effective vaccines and agreed upon health care precautions. • And I want peace in my nation, Lord. Peace between people who disagree, peace between folks on both sides of the aisle, peace that brings all Americans together one nation, under your rule, Lord, with liberty and justice for all. • And I want peace for my family and my friends – and maybe some peace for me, too. • And, Lord: I want the kind of peace that lasts - the kind of peace that only you can give. • That’s why we need a little Christmas, Lord, because it’s your birthday and you’re the Prince of Peace. 
 • And next on my list, Lord, is safety and security for the most vulnerable: for the poor, the homeless, the hungry, for children waiting to be born and for children hoping to grow up, and for immigrants and refugees for the marginalized and oppressed: for all of them I want a warm place to stay, a place to call home, food on the table, clothes on their back, decent health care and the freedom they need to become the people you created them to be. 
• And, Lord, don’t forget the elderly, especially the sick and those who live alone: for all of them I want the safety and security of others to love and care for them, gently and tenderly. 
• And for Good Shepherd Parish this Christmas, I want a real homecoming, Lord. Not just on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but a homecoming that lasts, Sunday after Sunday, into the New Year, bringing home to prayer those who’ve been away, those who are angry and mistrustful of the Church. I want a Christmas star in the sky again, Lord, guiding home all whose hearts long for you, and seek you. 
• Give us Mary, your mother, to comfort and console the lonely and all who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Give us your mother to console them, and give them a season of joy to remind them of how much you love them and how much you love the ones they've lost. 
• Give us angels and shepherds, Lord, to guide and tend us in caring for one another through the holidays. Caring especially those in troubled marriages and families wounded, divided and estranged by strife, disagreements, resentments and grudges. Bring all of us the gifts that all of us need: patience… perseverance… understanding… compassion… mercy... healing… forgiveness… and reconciliation. • This Christmas, Lord, bring us all the love and humility we need to be kind to one another - even, and especially - to be kind to those who haven’t been kind to us. 
 • And, Lord, I ask you to bring RELIEF for those whose plates are filled to overflowing with trials and tribulations: relief for people with so many bills to pay - but no paycheck; relief for people with worries, anxieties, and fears. relief, Lord, for those whose troubles just seem to never end. 
• And, I don’t want to be greedy, Lord - but that's not the end of my list - there's more! Piled under the tree and stuffed in stockings I also want to find: - daily news that’s factual, wholesome and uplifting - truth to help us make good decisions and wise choices - good jobs for good wages - leaders we can trust in government and in the Church - serenity for those who suffer depression - respect for the environment and for all living beings - recovery for the addicted, healing for the sick - and justice for the oppressed - and freedom in the hearts of those who are in prison. 
 • I know I’m asking for a lot, Lord - maybe even too much. But please don’t think me selfish. Two-thirds of the world’s people are starving or underfed and they lack even the humble shelter of the stable where you were born in Bethlehem. • We “need a little Christmas,” Lord: we need to remember that it’s your birthday and that you and the poor wait… and wait… and wait… You wait for us who have more than we need, to change the structures that keep the poor so very poor while the rich grow ever richer. 
 • We “need a little Christmas” to remind us it’s not all about the toys and clothes and electronics we want and hope to get: it's about the really important gifts that in our heart of hearts - we all truly desire. 
• Help us see that Christmas is less about getting more and more about how much we already have -- and need to share; that Christmas is about what we need to give, and give generously, to those whose many needs are so much greater than our own. 
• And I know, Lord: so many of the gifts I’ve asked for are already mine, already ours, to give, to share with others in my family, among my friends at school and at work, in my parish and neighborhood and wherever there are people in need. 
 • Many of these gifts don’t even cost a lot of money but to give them means I’ll have to spend -- my self – for others - even as you spent yourself for me, Lord, on the Cross. • Forgive me for asking for so much, but it’s true, Lord: we really do need a little Christmas - and we need it sooner than later. ______________________________________________________________ 

Well, that’s it. That's the latest draft of my Christmas wish list for God… And once again this year, I see that I’m much quicker to tell the Lord what I want from him - than to stop and listen to what he might want from me this Christmas. After all: it is his birthday and he should get at least some of the presents! 

We’re gathered here at the Lord’s table - and even today - with Christmas still almost three weeks away, even today we’ll find here, at this altar, the very same gift we received on the first Christmas, some 2000 years ago. 
 Here, in the Eucharist, we don't have to wait for December 25th. Here we’ll find… we’ll be given… and we’ll receive the greatest gift of all: the gift of God’s love for us in Jesus in the Bread and Cup of the eucharist.
 Pray with me, brothers and sisters, pray that this gift of the Eucharist open our eyes and our hearts to the gifts we really need - and, more importantly - to the gifts we really need to give to others who so desperately need a share of the abundance that's ours. 
We don’t have to wait until December 25th to find the gift of Jesus. He’s already with us, here, “right this very minute” in our Advent waiting, in our prayer, in his Word, in our hearts, in Communion… 
Yes, we need a little Christmas, right this very minute, “We need a little Christmas – now…”

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