The First Christmas in Bethlehem


Tap, tap. I wake up in the middle of a cold, dark night and rub my eyes. It seemed like I had just fallen asleep, but it was pitch black outside, except for a bright star up in the sky.

Maybe I was just seeing things because of how exhausted I was, but it was almost as if the star was trying to tell me something. However, the only thing I could tell myself was: who could be asking to stay at the inn this late at night? It had been such a long day. My brothers and sisters and I had been working all day, cooking, cleaning, gathering firewood, and helping Mama tend to the guests. 

Our inn was full, and it wasn't a surprise, being such a cold night. I also overheard Mama talking about King Herod and his order for everyone to go back to their family's hometown. Many people are related to King David, and he was from Bethlehem, so naturally, most of the inns here are full. But why he wanted everyone to do so, I'm not so sure... I felt a chill down my spine, thinking that maybe he had an evil plot to carry out, but one could only hope that it was just political gossip. 

I hear Papa trudge downstairs and open the door. I take one last look up at the bright star, and then I follow him, curious to see who may be at the door.

A blast of cool air blows my tangled hair out of my face, and then I see them. An extremely pregnant woman, about to give birth, and a tired, but kind-looking man was leading the mule that was carrying her. Although the woman was in a huge amount of pain, she was one of the most beautiful, pure, and strong women I had ever seen. Once again, maybe I was imagining things, but it was as if the light from the star shone directly upon her and her soon-to-be baby. The couple looked desperate for any room, even the kitchen, but Papa reluctantly told them that we had no vacancy at the inn. I would have gladly given up my room for them, but who was I to go against Papa? He shut the door in their face and climbed back upstairs to bed. I couldn't believe it! Why would Papa turn away a woman who was just about to give birth? Mama would worry if she didn't find me asleep in bed the next morning, but I couldn't just let myself stand around and let these poor people suffer. I followed them through the dark night, and the bright star was my guide.

After a few minutes of trying to find them, I lost hope and decided to retire. Just as I turned my back, the bright star burst into an even greater light, and shone on the stable across town. I followed the light, and there was the couple and their newborn baby in the manger. I walked slowly towards them, and the gentle lady softly whispered that her name was Mary, with her husband Joseph, and her baby Jesus. I could tell that this was no ordinary baby, and I heard a message from God saying that this was His Son, who was sent to save God's people. I adored the beautiful baby, and I thought to myself: God presents himself in the most mysterious ways. It is our own decision to decide whether to let him into our lives or not. God has sacrificed so much for his people, letting his own child be born in a manger and to a poor family. The least we can do for all people, especially Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, is to let their presence shine in our lives and to not shut the door on them.

 God's shining star will always be guiding our lives, and even when we turn our backs, his light will always be there. God was able to send his light through Jesus, and we can share that light, kindness, and generosity with others.
 
~Maria Frech


December Theme: Adoration
Prayer of the Week

Remember us, O God;
from age to age be our comforter.
You have given us the wonder of time,
blessings in days and nights, seasons and years.
Bless your children at the turning of the year
and fill the months ahead with the bright hope
that is ours in the coming of Christ.
You are our God, living and reigning, forever and ever.
Amen. 

In Need Of...

Liturgical Ministers
Would you like to serve as an Usher or Lector?  It's easy, and we would love to have you! Please contact the parish office for details at office@stjosaphatparish.org.

Helping Hands
Our Helping Hands outreach is requesting adult sized winter gloves and hats to help keep our community's visitors warm in these colder months.  Socks and men's white t-shirts are always appreciated!  You can drop off donations at the rectory any time.

Important Upcoming Dates!

January 1 - Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

January 5 - Men's Spirituality

January 6 - The Epiphany of the Lord

January 10 - Dine Around: Broken Barrel

January 10 - Parish Pastoral Council

January 13 - Youth Group

January 17 - Dine Around: Panera

February 23 - Unity Gala

Mass Times
Solemnity of Mary, 
Mother of God
(New Year's Day)
Tuesday, January 1st
10:00 am

The Epiphany of the Lord
Saturday, January 5th
5:00 pm
Sunday, January 6th
8:00 am, 10:00 am, 12:00 pm
Dine Around
Broken Barrel
2548 N. Southport Ave.
Thursday, January 10, 5-8pm
10% of sales goes back to SJS

Panera
400 W Division St
Thursday, January 17, 4-8pm
20% back to our school
Online and delivery included! Just add "PRFUND" at checkout
Men's Spirituality
The Men's Spirituality Group meets on the first and third Saturday of each month (October - May) at 6:30am in the Red Door Meeting Room of the Rectory.  Participants use a resource to guide their discussion and prayer. 
All men of the Parish and their friends are welcome. Our next meeting is :
Saturday, January 5th
Women's Group
All women are welcome (all generations, millennials, single, with parish school children or not) to join. Just come to events where you have time or interest. Our mission is to offer  social/fun/community building among parish women; service opportunities;
 spirituality/reflection; and  book club discussion opportunities. Our next meeting is:
Saturday, Jan 26th 9-11a
Book Discussion:
The Witch's Elm
Photo Directory
It's been 10 years since our last parish photo directory - time for an update!  Lifetouch (a Shutterfly company) will have photographers in the rectory  February 4-9.
Everyone who participates will receive a  FREE 8x10" photo and a copy of our parish photo directory.  This project is near and dear to Fr. Francis' heart as it will help him get to know our parishioners even better!
Schedule your photo session HERE
Unity Gala
Join us on Saturday, February 23, 7pm at Moonlight Studios for an evening of celebration at our annual parish fundraiser. This year's event will feature cocktails, appetizers, an exciting Live Auction, and dancing! 
Purchase Tickets HERE 
Questions? email: stephaniepall@gmail.com

The online auction is only as good as the donations we receive from people like you!  The more items we have, the more money we can raise to fund the vital needs of our church and school.  Please consider donating sports or concert tickets, restaurant, salon or retail giftcards or bottles of wine values over $20.  Donations can be brought to the rectory, info can be emailed to trishhaubrich@gmail.com, or submitted online  HERE.
Shop and Support
Shop Minted.com code: FUNDRAISEJOSAPHAT to save 15%, and 15% donated back to SJS

Recycle your floral vases - bring them to Ashland Addison Florist Co. for a donation to St. Josaphat!

Shop smile.amazon.com and select St. Josaphat Parish as your charitable organization, and St. Josaphat gets  5% on eligible items!

Shop sjs.shutterflystorefront.com and 
SJS gets 13%!

Thank you for your support!