Proclaiming Faith

Light in Darkness

December 25th, 2013 (see other dates)

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) solemnity, holy day of obligation

Discussion Questions for Reading 1

When we read the Scriptures, we must always remember that this is the word of God for us today. In the tradition of the Church, the city of Jerusalem (or Zion) means God's people, the Church itself, US. Knowing this, now when you hear or read, "The Lord is restoring Zion," what do you think? When you hear or read, "Break out in song, O ruins of Jerusalem," what do you think or feel? What is the messenger's message to you this Christmas Day?

Reading 1 Isaiah 52:7-10

Reading 1 Reflection

Is there anyone who would be more welcome at your door on Christmas morning than a messenger who had come to tell you that your fondest dream had come true? Whatever the messenger looked like, he or she would look beautiful to you!

That's the way it was for the prophet when he looked ahead to the great day of Israel's salvation. The best news God's people could possibly receive was that God would lead them home out of captivity. And through them, God would be honored as King of all the nations. At the very thought of that day, the people clapped and shouted and sang for joy.

Discussion Questions for Reading 2

You may have heard these sayings: "Actions speak louder than words" and "Your actions are speaking so loudly that I cannot hear what you are saying." God knew that the time for words alone was over. He decided to act, to send the Word himself, his Son.

(Someone once said, "Love is a verb." "a verb is an action word?perhaps we can say today, of all days, "Jesus is THE verb!?THE action Word, love in action!)

When someone's actions match his or her words, we say that person has integrity. We can depend on them. When they say something, they will do it. Do you know someone like this? How can you become a person of integrity? Christmas Day is a good time to thank God for sending his Son, and also for sending persons of integrity into our lives. How will you thank God today? How will you thank the people in your life that you can depend on?

Reading 2 Hebrews 1:1-6

Reading 2 Reflection

How beautiful and powerful is God's word to us! This reading proclaims that God has spoken to us through the Son of God. Jesus is the Word of God. He has saved us from sin and death. He lives and breathes in us. Let all the angels and all created beings worship him!

Discussion Questions for Gospel

How will you help make Jesus feel "at home" in your Christmas celebrations? How will you welcome him in the tiny baby, the excited child, those near and dear, those in sorrow or pain, the guest, the neighbor who may be alone, the inconvenient or unexpected happenings, the "black sheep" of the family? How will you remind yourself and others of the presence of Jesus in our midst this day? How will you keep Jesus at the center of your celebration?

Gospel John 1:1-18 or 1:1-5, 9-14

Gospel Reflection

The Word of God has come into the world. He is light and life, grace and truth. In the flesh of a tiny baby, God gives us his very Self. Jesus makes his home with us who accept him and embrace him as the Son of God. Christmas is a call to accept Jesus fully, and in accepting him, accepting all of God's children. When we excitedly say at Christmas, "Here comes Jesus!" what we are really saying then is, "Here comes everybody!"

Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades

The Greatest Gift of All

If possible, ahead of time obtain enough holy cards of the Nativity so that each member of your group can have one. If time permits, wrap each card in Christmas wrapping paper and tie each one with a ribbon. (You may want to use some thin cardboard as backing for the holy card.) Place the gifts around the classroom creche or in a special spot. Gather the children, sing Silent Night, and then give each child a gift (or the plain card) as you say, "God has given us the greatest gift of all." Then invite the children to open their gifts. You may want to end by sharing a sign of peace with one another.

The Light of the World

The gospel for the Mass of Christmas Day tells us that Jesus is the Light of the World. If possible, darken your gathering space. Tell the children that today we celebrate the coming of Jesus, the Light of the World. Gather the children in the prayer space or in a circle. In the center, place a large white candle or a flashlight or battery-powered lantern. As you and the children sing Silent Night, light the candle (if fire laws permit) or turn on the flashlight or lantern. Then sing the song, Happy Birthday to You, inserting the name of Jesus. You may then turn on all the lights and share cupcakes to celebrate Jesus' birthday. (Be sensitive to any food allergies the children may have.)

Proclaiming Faith Activities

Turn On a Light

Lights are everywhere at Christmas?on our trees, our houses, our streets. There are lights in people's eyes as they share their gifts and their love. But some eyes will be dark because faith or hope or love is absent. How will you try to turn on at last one of the lights below?

Suggestion: Draw a large rectangular window and divide it vertically into three sections or panes. Put a candle on each windowsill. On the left windowpane, write "Light of Faith." On the right windowpane, right "Light of Hope." In the middle pane, write "Light of Love."

Then, in each of the panes, write an action that you will do for the following:

Light of Faith: What can you do for someone who feels separated from God or from the parish? (Suggestions: Invite that person to come to church with us; let that person know that we miss him or her; take a card with a small gift, an ornament or some cookies, etc. to that person.)

Light of Hope: What can you do for someone who feels depressed or who has suffered a failure of some kind? (Suggestions: Visit that person, pray with or for him or her; invite that person to share some part of Christmas with you and your family; bring a plate of food from your Christmas feast to that person.)

Light of Love: What can you do for someone who is separated from loved ones at Christmastime, due to distance or death? (Suggestions: Invite that person to share a holiday meal, party, or liturgy; make a special card assuring that person of your ?care and prayer; make a plan to meet with that person in a week or two for a movie or lunch, etc.)

The light of Christ is within you! Let it shine!

Break Out in Song

When the messenger brings the good news of salvation, God's people break out in song. Christmas is the perfect time to get together with family or friends or neighbors to sing, just for the joy of it or to entertain others. This is a wonderful way to spread the glad tidings! Plan your song sessions below.

Whom shall we invite to our Christmas song session?
Ideas: neighbors, youth groups from other Christian churches, etc.

Where shall we go caroling?
Ideas: around the neighborhood, at retirement centers, or even grocery stores or other neighborhood places where people gather.

What songs will you sing?
Ideas: Try having each one choose one, making sure that standard favorites are not left out!

For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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