Christmas is almost upon us – hope we are ready!! Our Church will be filled to capacity, so we need to prepare for this as well. We will decorate and put the Nativity Scene together soon, but there is another way we can prepare for the folks coming in two weeks.
We need to keep in mind that there are many reasons why people come to church once in a while; some reasons only God can handle. However, we do have a part to play once they get here. If the Holy Spirit gets them to come, our job is to get them to stay. That’s Evangelization!
How you may ask? If you talk to anyone who has left and come back, or who has “parish shopped”, you know that it is not the music that makes the decision for them to stay, nor is it the homily or the decor that brings them back to a particular church. It is love. Only love. They need to be surrounded with it to feel at home in our church, and there are three parts involved with these folks seeing, hearing and feeling that love.
Of course, Jesus is here…always… waiting to give us His love in the Eucharist. He is unfailing, unwavering and unchanging in His faithfulness and Divine Mercy for His people. That is true love, and they will see, and hear, and feel that.
Then there is the priest’s part. Did you ever notice Fr. McEnhill celebrate Mass…really notice? He is deliberate. There can be no mistake that every single gesture and movement and genuflection is meant to point us, the people he shepherds, directly to the Mercy of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Father is well aware of the love that waits for us all in Christ. He comes to each and every Mass to physically help us receive the Eucharist, and waits in the narthex to “send us forth” after each Mass is finished. That is true love, and they will see and hear and feel that.
Then there is our part. They need to see and hear and feel that we are the product of Christ’s love. They need to see that we believe enough in what is happening at Mass to participate in everything – singing, responding, and gifting each other with peace. They need to hear our love for Christ and each other in our responses …they need to know that we mean it when we say “and with your Spirit”. They need to see and feel and hear us “lift our hearts up to the Lord” because “it IS right and just”!!
That is why the early Christians named it Eucharist! It is the block of time that we come together “give thanks” to Almighty God for all He has done for us! And they need to feel surrounded in warmth and love by the Mystical Body of Christ – us. This means that even if we don’t particularly like the song, or aren’t gifted with a great voice, we still sing our hearts out “like the mighty wind” anyway. The thing is, the music is not part of the Mass to bring us joy, it is there to bring joy to the King!! We provide that joy by singing each hymn as a love song to our God – no matter the melody or tempo. That is true love!
So on that beautiful day, as we celebrate the birth of Our Lord (and beyond), our greeters will be greeting, our ushers will be ushering, our lectors will be lectoring, our choir will be singing, our Eucharistic Ministers will be ministering, our altar servers will be serving, our children will be smiling, our priest will be shepherding, and Jesus will be saving us with His Body and Blood, and these folks will see and hear and feel that Our Lady of Refuge is a great place to call home…