As a kid, I was stoked to be a part of Christmas Mass. All the children got to be angels, farm animals, and shepherds adorned in their mum’s tea towels and sheets. The older kids were chosen to be the wise men, and one girl got to be Mary. If you lived in Innisfail in 2006 you would have seen the nervous face of 12-year-old me in that special role.
Later, Mum and Dad introduced us to a thing called ‘Midnight Mass’. It happens all around the world in different churches – people gather for a vigil to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Mass. One year I was so over-tired and over-excited for Christmas the next day that I dove headfirst into a meltdown. By the time the Priest was reading the Gospel, I was sobbing on my Dad’s shoulder, begging him to take me home.
BTW I was 16. It was not a great time for me.
The good news is, things have gotten a lot better since those days. And now as a young adult, I’ve actually made the decision to get myself to Mass on Christmas.
Here’s 3 reasons why.
1. The best way for me to understand something is to get involved.
It took me a pretty long time to understand that there was more to Christmas than just opening gifts in the morning and getting hashbrowns for brekkie. And the reason my understanding changed was because I got involved. After I was the little girl in the nativity play, I ran out of ‘things to do’ at Mass, so I found others. It’s a simple strategy and it broke up the time. But it definitely got me invested.
2. I’m not going to miss out on a birthday party!
FOMO has never been a friend of mine, and Chrissy time is no different. In the Bible, we hear about how the angel Gabriel visited Mary. He said God would give a son, and through this Son, God would bring peace and freedom to earth. This is the starting point of an incredible story, one that has pretty well changed my whole life. Jesus is the best present under the tree! And heading to Mass on Christmas to honour Him is the best way to say, ‘Happy birthday’.
3. I feel like I’m going home.
I moved away from home to uni, and each year, Christmas has become the one time my family are all in the same place. I make the journey home. Mary and Joseph go through the same thing. Even at 9 months pregnant, they travelled the tough journey to Bethlehem, where they were left without a bed. Home is important to Jesus, and he tells us again and again that God wants us to know him in order to be welcomed into our true home - Heaven. Whether you know it or not, Mass is the closest we can get to tasting Heaven on earth. I don’t head to my small town up north each Christmas just to go home: I head to Mass.
So that’s it! These are three reasons I head to Mass on Christmas. There are plenty more, for sure, but they're enough to get me off my couch and onto the pew. For me it’s more about presence than presents (Heh heh). Hopefully these three might nudge you to Mass this Christmas too. And hey, maybe while you’re at it, invite a friend to go with you.