Santa Claus visited our church today. He welcomed people at the front door; he walked with the procession to the altar; he gave gold coins filled with chocolate to little ones after Mass.
Jolly old St. Nick said, "Ho-Ho-Holy" and asked one little girl a defining question as she walked away from him, "Do you know whose birthday we celebrate on Christmas?"
She looked back over her shoulder and said, "God's!"
Hearing it, stopped me in my tracks. Indeed, Christmas is supposed to celebrate the incarnation of our Creator, little baby Jesus born in Bethlehem.
Then why is it that we receive presents on December 25? It's not our big day.
Christmas is really about a monumental blessing of the world. The divine stepping into our skin and taking on the limits of time and space within the messiness of humanity.
Have you decided what you will give him this year? It's not too late.
We have friends back in Detroit who have spent Christmas morning having breakfast with the homeless. At the time, there were just the three in their family, so they thought the best way to grow their table was to serve the neediest in the community.
Then there are those who forgo exchanging gifts altogether and instead make a significant donation to a worthy charity in hopes of lifting up the suffering.
By far, my favorite idea comes from those who don't celebrate Christmas at all. Again this year, Detroit's Jewish Community Relations Council will team up with the Michigan Muslim Community Council for Mitzvah Day on Christmas. A mitzvah in Hebrew means more than a good deed; it's the observance of a commandment to do good and avoid evil. So, on Christmas and the days approaching it, these two non-Christian groups will volunteer at charities so their Christian brothers and sisters can enjoy their special holy day. Jews and Muslims will work for free in soup kitchens, homeless shelters and the like. They will feed and comfort and spend time with those who are sick.
And Detroit is not alone. Other communities across the nation perform Christmas mitzvahs.
Can you imagine how the almighty must feel when all those who claim to love him are united around the day dedicated to honoring his generosity.
There is still time to give yourself to the source of all life and love.