Promises and Anxiety
Opening Question: What's the best promise someone can make?
First Reading: II Samuel 7:8-16
"Promises, promises, promises," Jesse fumed. "Everyone makes promises, but no one keeps them!" Jesse was waiting for that special day his parents promised him. It was Christmas vacation, and his parents promised they would go up to the mountains so he could play in the snow. But, then his parents got a phone call from their aunt who surprised Jesse's family with a visit. Suddenly, his parents changed plans and Jesse felt ignored.
Jesse's older brother promised him he could play with the new video game. "You'll get a turn," his brother said. But Jesse never got a turn. His brother hogged the game.
With the rush of the holidays, everyone, even his friends, seemed to break their promises with Jesse. Everyone was so busy, Jesse spent a lot of time alone.
Soon, it was Christmas Eve and Jesse felt the vacation was a waste. "I wish I were back in school," Jesse thought. He felt that bad! When he sat down at church, he saw the manger scene with the baby Jesus. Then he looked up at the cross and he remembered what happened to Jesus. He almost prayed, "Jesus, did you ever feel as bad as I do tonight?" He stopped because he realized Jesus did feel alone and ignored. But Jesus came into the world to keep his Father's promise. To his people and to their king, David. God loved us so much, he gave us his Son. Jesse began to understand and he didn't feel so alone. He had one friend who kept his promise, Jesus. It was going to be a good Christmas after all.
Bridging Question: Do you get anxious, excited, or scared when you're surprised?
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
God sent the angel Gabriel to a young woman named Mary. Mary lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and was engaged to Joseph.
After entering, the angel greeted Mary. "The Lord is blessing you, for he is with you now!" Mary wondered why he greeted her and was upset by what he said. "Don't be afraid," the angel told her, "you are blessed by God. You'll have a son named Jesus. He will be great. God will call him 'Son' and will give him the throne of his ancestor David. He will rule over Israel forever because his reign will never end."
"How can this happen?" Mary asked the angel. "I'm not married!"
"God's own power, his Holy Spirit, will come down on you," the angel answered. "So, the boy to be born will be called holy and Son of God. Listen! Your relative Elizabeth who is so old no one thought she could have children is now pregnant. This is her sixth month. With God, anything is possible."
"I serve the Lord!" Mary exclaimed. "Let what you said happen to me." Then, the angel left her.
Sunny's German Shepherd would soon have puppies. The dog was already big, but the pregnancy made her super-sized. When Sunny took the dog for a walk, she could hardly control the animal.
Toward the end of her pregnancy, the dog began to get nervous. She would sharpen her nails. She seemed to prepare for the worst, even when the best was about to happen. The dog's nerves began to bother Sunny. "What's going on with our dog?" Sunny asked her father.
"This is her first litter, Sunny," her father responded. "The dog knows something is happening, but she doesn't know what to expect. This is going to be a surprise for her."
"This is a surprise for me, too!" Sunny said. This would be the first time Sunny got see an animal give birth. She worried about the dog and what would happen to her.
The closer it got to the delivery, the higher the tension rose in the house. Finally the time came. Late one night, Sunny woke up to the sound of a dog howl. She got up to see her parents taking towels into a dark closet. "What's going on?" Sunny asked. "Is it time?" The looks on her parents' faces said it all.
Everyone was tired but happy the next morning, even the dog. In the dark closet, her dog nursed nine new puppies. As Sunny looked in the closet, the dog looked back and wagged its tail. The wait was over. The surprise was no longer a surprise. Everyone, including the dog, could relax.
Like Sunny, Mary must have felt the tension. The angel had come to her and announced the best news the world ever heard. She didn't know what this stranger wanted, or what his strange message meant. But in the end, she said "yes."
That was only the beginning. She had to wait, not knowing what would happen next. Everything was new to her, every experience of new life within her. But soon, the wait would be over.
Christmas will soon be here. We'll get presents and good food and lots of hugs. But, remember what Christmas really means. We wait for Jesus, just like his mother did after she said "yes" to his father, God the Father.
Closing Question: How can we say "yes" to God this Christmas? How can we make this holiday a little better for others?