A Story that Never Ends – The Christmas Story

Founding Sisters
December 8: A Mary Feast and a Special Day for Sylvania Franciscans
December 8, 2023
Sister Nancy Ann Johnson
Sister Nancy Ann Johnson, OSF
January 9, 2024
Founding Sisters
December 8: A Mary Feast and a Special Day for Sylvania Franciscans
December 8, 2023
Sister Nancy Ann Johnson
Sister Nancy Ann Johnson, OSF
January 9, 2024

by Sr. Joan Jurski, OSF

Jesus in the MangerThe Advent season is quickly coming to an end. What are our thoughts now that Christmas is upon us? Do we look forward to the joy and expectation and meaning of Christmas? Is it a joyful day for us? Each Christmas we look forward to singing carols, enjoying traditional food and uniting with family to remember the traditions that embraced us as a family. I think the first Christmas shared this spirit, albeit, being a little different in appearance.

It was a holy and special gathering. Who was there? Mary, a teen virgin giving birth for the first time, Joseph, a poor carpenter called to be the one to protect a family. Because Israel was an agricultural nation and sheep and goats ruined the crops, that put the shepherds at the bottom of society – and yet God sent angels to visit them in the fields to invite them to visit Mary and the Babe. I think God used those shepherds to remind us that all kinds of people were welcome at the birth.

The other guests were the Magi, who were so different from the shepherds in wisdom, wealth, and power. They were Gentiles who came from foreign lands in the East and who persisted in following the star, arriving in Bethlehem with expensive gifts. Tradition has it that Mary accepted the gifts of Frankincense, Myrrh and Gold and eventually gave them to the Temple in Jerusalem.  (Regifting began with the first Christmas!) And, let’s not forget the animals, who offered their manger and home to a family in need. They offered the best they had, warmth to the family.  No gift is too small.

We are grateful for St. Francis who embraced the first Christmas. In 1223 he called together the villagers of Greccio and their animals to relive the first Christmas.  A tradition of setting up creches began. Where do you place your crib?

God invited many different people to Bethlehem to celebrate. All were welcome, the poor and the wealthy alike. The message of Christmas is timeless. God’s love is for everyone, shepherds and kings, saints and sinners. What does this mean to me today? How comfortable do I feel with people different from myself in age, ethnicity, color, education, poverty, different political opinions?  Do I welcome them into my life? How do I answer this question at Christmas?

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,

When the star in the sky is gone,

When the kings and princes are home,

When the shepherds are back with their flock,

The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,

To heal the broken,

To feed the hungry,

To release the prisoner,

To rebuild the nations,

To bring peace among others,

To make music in the heart.

—  Howard Thurman

We pray that we may be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the Shepherds, the determination of the Magi, and the peace of the Christ Child.


Scripture: Matthew 2:1 – 2 and 9      Luke 2:8-14

Merry Christmas!

Sister Joan Jurski


Sister Joan Jurski recently retired as the Director of the Regina Retreat and Conference Center after ten years.  She continues to guide mini-pilgrimages on the campus for visitors several times each year. Sister Joan was a teacher for 28 years and served in a variety of pastoral ministries for over 25 years. "Through each ministry - teaching, serving the homeless, parish and justice work, and spirituality, my service has been about people and living the message that 'Joy is the echo of God's light,'" she says.

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