When God really wants to tell you something, He's not afraid to take you the long way around the barn to get you to hear it. Case in point: As a once-Catholic, part of my Christmas for a long time has been listening or watching to the Midnight Masses. Once upon a time, Ft. Wayne/South Bend's late Bishop John D'Arcy made sure Midnight Mass was on TV, along with a special during-Communion message to the TV viewers. The new Bishop for whatever reason chooses not to. After one year with no coverage, the Catholic radio station, Redeemer Radio, started doing a broadcast ( and play by play of a mass isn't all that easy!). Tonight I settled in to hear this mass, spending the long Choir praying for as many of you as I could think of. But the coverage was spotty, and just as the Bishop started the Mass, Redeemer lost their signal. So back downstairs I traipsed, and found a live stream from St. Jude's Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Florida.
There, I listened to Bishop Robert Lynch give a very good sermon on how the best way to receive the gift of Christmas is to put away selfishness. I enjoy once a year returning to the old rituals, especially since now they've gone back to the wording I new as a young child rather than the sanitized "modern version". But the moment that struck me was during Communion- "the Lord's Supper" for those not hip to the lingo, as it were.
I felt drawn to participate, as I do once in a great while. But at 1:30 in the morning and not wishing to wake the whole house (i.e. one less than reverent Beagle), I decided to "make do". No wine in the house? Okay, we'll sub water. No unleavened bread? Don't feel like opening the next sleeve of Ritz crackers? Well, on the table sits a half-eaten box of doughnut holes. The sweetness of the one makes up for the lack of the other, right?
Before you call lightning down on me for my blasphemy, let me tell you what happened next.
As I said a prayer before eating the "bread", I noted that it was more like the morsel Judas Iscariot dipped with Jesus before he went out to betray Him. How appropriate, I thought, for a sinner such as I to be sharing, rather than the Bread of Communion, the Betrayer's Morsel. It seems I do a lot more of that than doing the right thing in remembrance.
And then I prayed about the water. And the thing that it reminded me of was the last trickle of water from Jesus' side on the Cross. Just moments after He said, "It is finished".
And that's when it hit me for the millionth time, just in a new way. Every day I eat the Betrayer's Morsel of sin. And at the end of each day Jesus says, "It is finished." And those sins are forgiven, and He wakes me in the morning with "See, I make all things new." Even me.
With that in mind, it's now Christmas, and He has made all things new. Let's take advantage of that and do well. May your day be blessed and bright, with those you love and the One who's birth in us we celebrate.