Christmas Message 2019

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.” (Luke 2: 10-11)

Dear Parishioners, Friends, Guests and Visitors,

With these words the Angels brought good news of great joy to the shepherds. Today as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, with the same joy I greet you a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

St. Francis Assisi was the first person who created the nativity scene in the year 1223. After visiting the holy land and seeing the exact site of Christ’s birth, Francis wanted to recreate the experience of the first Christmas. He did this not with statues inside a church, but with animals in a humble hilltop grove.

Franciscan friar Thomas of Celano narrates the rest of the story:

[A]bout 15 days before the Nativity of the Lord, [Francis] said to [a friend in Greccio], “… I would make memorial of that Child who was born in Bethlehem, and in some sort behold with bodily eyes His infant hardships; how He lay in a manger on the hay, with the ox and the ass standing by.” The night was lit up as the day, and was delightful to men and beasts … [Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy. According to St. Bonaventure, a miracle also occurred on that night and a certain valiant and veracious soldier … affirmed that he beheld an Infant marvelously beautiful, sleeping in the manger, whom the blessed Father Francis embraced with both his arms, as if he would awake Him from sleep.

Dear friends, this is Christmas! Every year when we celebrate Christmas, we don’t merely celebrate a past event. But Jesus comes alive in the celebration of the faith community. It is a very special time of grace and healing. God in His Son Jesus, comes to gather all His scattered children in His one flock. So, whether we are regular worshipers or not, He loves us and He wants all His children to be united in one community and experience His perpetual dwelling with us, especially in the Breaking of the Bread. Therefore like St. Francis, we need to open our hearts with humility to the radiance of God’s light and grace so that He may fill us with the joy and peace we all crave for in our lives.

As we once again come to the end of another calendar year and celebrate the Feast of Christmas it is a time for us to reflect on the blessings of this past year in our personal and parish life. My heart is full of gratitude to God for all the blessings he has bestowed upon this parish community. I would like to thank all of you parishioners for your commitment to our parish. The giving of your time, talent and treasure to the Lord, continues to bear fruit at St. Mark. The generosity of parishioners through food, clothes, gift cards and giving tree donations, continues to bear witness to your love for Christ in the poor and needy. A special thanks to the devoted members of the various ministries in our parish who work so hard to strengthen our parish community. The year 2019 has been a remarkable year for us as we participated in diocesan “We Stand with Christ Campaign”. Despite the horrible clergy sexual abuse scandals, your extremely generous support to the campaign shows that nothing can destroy the Church built on

the rock of St. Peter. We clergy members of St. Mark parish are overwhelmed and humbled by your love and support.

With immense joy and gratitude, on behalf of Fr. Russell, Deacons Emmet, Paul and Andy and our parish staff, I thank you for being part of St. Mark parish family, and I wish each and every one of you and those dearest to you, both near and far, A VERY BLESSED, HOLY AND MERRY CHRISTMAS! May our Lord Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, bless you, your families and loved ones and give you peace and joy that the world cannot give. May Mary, the Mother of Our Savior and our Mother, watch over you, and your families during this Holy Season and in the New Year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

With love and every blessing,
Fr. Birendra Soreng
Pastor, St. Mark Church