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The prayers for Christmas are among some of my favourites from the Missal. The second preface of Christmas, for example, sums up perfectly what the Church celebrates during this season - the beginning of the mystery of salvation which had been God's plan from all eternity:
"Christ is your Son before all ages, yet now he is born in time. He has come to lift up all things to himself, to restore unity to creation, and to lead mankind from exile into your heavenly kingdom."
Many of the Mass prayers use the image of light: "Father, you make this holy night radiant with the splendour of Jesus Christ our light. We welcome him as the true light of the world".
(Opening Prayer, Mass at Midnight)
The Sunday after Christmas Day, 27th December, is the Feast of the Holy Family. The Son of God and his family were faced with some very difficult situations. An emperor’s edict compelled Mary and Joseph to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem; a king’s cruelty forced the family to flee into Egypt; fear of Herod’s successor made them move from Judaea and settle in Galilee. Mary and Joseph experienced the anguish of their son’s disappearance for three days in a strange and bustling city. Through these hardships, the Holy Family placed themselves in God’s hands and followed where God called them to go. Many people in today’s world endure similar trials and anxieties to those experienced by the Holy Family.
The first Sunday of 2010, 3rd January, is the Epiphany of the Lord. The word epiphany comes from the Greek and means "manifestation" or "revelation". This feast celebrates all three aspects of Christ's revelation – the visit of the Magi, Christ’s baptism and the miracle at Cana.
On the following Sunday, 10th January, we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. The baptism of the Lord is another epiphany, or manifestation, of Jesus to the world. God announces to all present at the baptism that Jesus is his beloved Son. The baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of his public ministry and a manifestation of his true identity. That identity comes from the voice of the Father proclaiming: “You are my Son, the Beloved.”
The preface for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord blends the themes of the baptism of Christ and the baptism of the faithful. It also incorporates several of the images that occur in today’s scriptures - the dove, the anointing and the gospel of salvation for the poor.
“You celebrated your new gift of baptism by signs and wonders at the Jordan.
Your voice was heard from heaven to awaken faith in the presence among us
of the Word made man.
Your Spirit was seen as a dove, revealing Jesus as your servant,
and anointing him with joy as the Christ,
sent to bring to the poor the good news of salvation. “
How to keep the joy of Christmas going from 25th December until 10th January– a whole 17days? Leave the Christmas tree and decorations up, keep singing Christmas carols and continue spreading Christmas goodwill.
My Christmas wish for all “Liturgy Lines” readers is based a prayer of the Mass, as you might expect from a liturgist:
May the Word-become-flesh give you peace and good will and fellowship with all the heavenly hosts.