Thus says the LORD:
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel.
– Micah 5:1
It was the prophet Micah who foretold the birthplace of the Messiah. Like other Old Testament prophets, his is a challenging message about repentance and renewal. But ultimately a hopeful message, too, as he points to a coming savior.…in Bethlehem.
Well, for one thing, it was an extremely modest setting, exactly what God wanted for the birth of his son. His birth in Bethlehem aligned Jesus with the poor, the neglected, and the forgotten because Bethlehem was all of those things. Another reason: throughout Scripture God accomplishes his purposes through unlikely people in unlikely places. God chooses Bethlehem because it was the least likely place.
A third reason God chose Bethlehem comes earlier in Scripture, in First Samuel, where we learn Bethlehem was the birthplace Israel’s greatest king, King David. Later, God promised David that the Messiah would come from his lineage. Bethlehem, impoverished as it was, was the birthplace of kings.
Finally, the word Bethlehem means “house of bread.” Our most basic need is the need for nourishment. Bread was a staple of the ancient diet and it took on symbolic value regarding God’s grace in our lives. The most famous period in the history of Israel, the Exodus, was only possible because of the bread from heaven, the Manna, that the people received each day. Bread was used in Temple worship to represent God’s presence and provision. This all came to a culmination on the night before he died when Jesus gave us the gift of the Eucharist.
We are nourished by Jesus in many ways: through God’s word, prayer, fellowship with other followers, giving, serving. Absolutely we are nourished when we join church online. But most of all, first of all, above all, we are nourished by Jesus as we receive him here in the Eucharist. It is the source and summit of our lives as Christ-followers.
This year we will be celebrating Christmas Eve Mass for the first time ever, in our new facility. And I would like to invite and encourage as many of you as are here in North Baltimore to join us in person. We respect everyone who chooses to stay home, especially in view of new concerns and developments with COVID. We will be broadcasting both Christmas Eve Masses at 3:00 pm and 5:30 pm and they will be high-quality presentations.
But I would like to address those who have pushed back saying that if they end up in a video venue they might as well watch it from home.
The church’s 1500 seats will be first come first serve, with no reservations, and no saving seats. Everyone else will be invited to a video venue, or you can go directly to the venue of your choice. We will offer video venues in the Theatre, the Vision Café, and a smaller venue in the Pavilion.
Here are my very best arguments why our venues will be great options:
10. It will be fun and festive to get dressed up and see everyone for the evening after missing out on it last year. The experience of coming together, praying together, singing together will be good for the soul.
9. Unlike the church, you can save seats for friends and family.
8. The Pavilion will offer family-friendly seating for families who choose to keep their little children with them. There will be a play area adjacent to the seating.
7. The Vision Café, with a huge LED screen, will require masks, offering a more comfortable environment for those concerned about crowds and social distancing.
6. In the Theatre, we’ll be inaugurating amazing new technology including 3 LED screens, creating an incomparable experience.
5. Each venue will be beautifully decorated, each will be staffed with host ministers and a venue MC, helping to create engaging environments.
4. There will be live music in each as part of the pre-Mass program.
3. Even if you are seated in a venue the All-Stars program will be available for little kids and Time Travelers for school-age kids. Your children and grandchildren will absolutely love it, and you can get a little Christmas Eve break while they’re gone.
2. Let’s face it, the Cow Palace was a video venue!
1. The number one reason to join us is the most obvious one: Holy Communion. You can attend Mass and receive
Communion this Christmas.
Micah foretold that Christ would be born in Bethlehem. Christ, the Savior of the World, was given to us in a house of bread. That’s what we are, that’s what Nativity is, a house of bread in which we encounter, the living Lord, the real presence of Christ.
Please join us as we share Christ this Christmas.