Bridges often make me consider how we are all connected, how we can’t help but be connected to each other, at least superficially.

Bridges remind me of our need to be connected as well though. We want to get from one place to another and a little bit of water surely won’t stop us.

I think that’s a lot like advent and more importantly, like God. As we move towards remembering the incarnation, a reminder of the fact that God too draws bridges to us, may we be filled with joy and peace.

God cannot bear to be separated from us. And so God makes a bridge and that bridge is Jesus. The little baby with one foot in humanity and the other in divinity, cradled in Mary’s arms and still cradling us to God.

It is the divine bridge. Do we dare cross to the other side? For to do so requires a small toll. You see God paid a hefty price to bridge us sinners back to him. That toll was also Jesus, who gives us life by losing His own. Might we be willing to lose our lives this advent on the bridge so that we might love those who too often dangle over the edges?

This Christmas, why don’t we give one another a bridge? An offering of ourselves that says “I am willing to stay connected with you.”. Offer it to friends, husbands to wives (again) and parents to children. The young can build bridges with mighty hands for the elderly who have grown weary and the poor can be supported by the rich.

This Christmas, let us be bridge-builders by lying in the manger and becoming the baby’s heart that longs to connect with all of humanity.

For we cannot help but be connected to each other. Amen.

Christmas Cards and the Dreaded Christmas Letters

Fr. Jim McDermott, SJ over at Gone Walkabout, shares my distaste for Christmas letters.

Between you and me, as soon as I heard “Christmas letter”, two things happened. First, my skin crawled. Second, I tuned out. It was all Charlie Brown’s teacher after that.

Christmas letters — my friends, I just don’t get them. Or the single-space-page-of-text-that-makes-my-eyes-bleed variety, anyway. Who wants to read all that? It’s not that we don’t care, but come on, a typed page or more with nothing but text? Are you for real?

Ironically, these letters take a lot of work. So the writers put a lot of effort in, and at best most people skim it.

Read some of his hints for improving these. I only have one: Set them on fire.

A few lines about what you’re up to is often fine. I look forward to the people who do that each year. Fr Ed Nowak, CSP of the Paulists writes a fine Christmas letter–about the size of a 3×5 card and it’s always filled with interesting tid-bits from the year. Most of the others I’ve gotten are depressing and way too long. I think they’re also a bit pretentious.

I also hate the pictures of just the kids on the card. I may want to see what your dumb face looks like too mommies and daddies. After all, I have to see if everyone’s getting balder and fatter, don’t I?

Here’s my salute to the minimalist Christmas letter:

Happily married. No kids, cool dog. New home in Buffalo. Campus Ministry rocks as do my co-workers. Still blogging at Come visit the falls! Life is good. Merry Christmas. -Mike

If someone needs to know more than that…they can read the blog.

Happy Cranky Yuletide

What’s Your Favorite Christmas Tradition?

While we begin or finish our Christmas shopping, begin to at least buy a new decoration or two or get those cherished ornaments down from the attic, I am reminded of a great many traditions that friends and family have.

My favorite one has been hijacked in most places. I’m a huge fan of Midnight Mass. And I mean Mass AT Midnight. Not 10PM. Not 8PM. Not 4PM (heavens!). MID-NIGHT. It’s one of the most identifiable Catholic traditions in the world and I think we too easily dismiss this as inconvenient for us. Perhaps our priests are of the age where it’s a lot tougher to stay up that late much less, preside that late. But I always get sad when I see four or five families show up at 11:30PM for the carols before midnight only to be sent out into the street because the 10PM mass just finished. Mass on Christmas Day is a different experience but I love the Midnight experience.

I began to think about particular rituals but I wasn’t coming up with much from my family besides opening gifts.

What are your favorite rituals surrounding Christmas? Something particular that your family does during the Nativity? What might you enjoy or perhaps think about doing this coming year?