There is a news story of a man from Milwaukee who has terminal cancer. He knows that this is going to be his last Christmas, so he had one dying wish. He asked for people to send him Christmas cards. People began to send him Christmas cards, and they started to come in.
Initially, he started to receive 10 and 20, but before you knew it, there were 100, 200, and 300. And, that was all he expected to receive, but then it hit the news and social media. One day he received 30,000 Christmas cards.
He has received over 50,000 Christmas cards to date. He and his wife are trying to read every single one. His wife promises that even after her husband dies, she will continue reading them.
As they read these Christmas cards, they received some beautiful messages and some heartbreaking ones. Gene (the husband) said that one of the Christmas cards was one of the more emotional cards. The card said, “I lost my husband Jerry on October 23, 2017. He died of stage 4 cancer. He tried chemo, it made him weak. He was 65 years old. He died in 3 months at home with me. Can you say hi to Jerry when you go to heaven?”
His son Ross said that they are crying and laughing as they are reading these cards. He said one young man from North Carolina wrote that he had not spoken to his father in seven years. When he heard this news story, he decided to call him, and they reconciled.
Gene has called this an incredible sharing of love, happiness, and kindness. And although Gene does not know how much time he has left, he says, “I’m confident this is going to be my last Christmas – and probably the most memorable one.”
Gene said he wanted to leave people with a message for Christmas. “Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Take the time to tell your loved ones that you love them. Give them a hug and don’t wait till tomorrow because tomorrow may never come.”
There is another part of this story that I think is even more beautiful. There was a man named Earl who was reading this story on his news timeline. He felt inspired, so he called his two cousins, Markeeth and Marquayne. Instead of just sending a card, they decided that they would set out on a mini road trip. They took everything they had and poured it into their gas money and bought the Christmas cards. They drove 2.5 hours to hand-deliver them to this man.
When they got there, Earl said, “Gene had a smile on his face like he knew us already. He teared up because we were the only people that actually came to see him. He got lots of letters in the mail, but we were the ones who actually showed up on his doorstep.”
Then they prayed together, and they cried, and they laughed, and they shared stories. Gene said, “That for this group of friends to bring a smile to him during this difficult time was something that he would always cherish.” Marquayne said, “We were happy. We were joyful, and we were like, do you believe we just did this?”
This Christmas I would like you to think about these three men as the love of God. God wants to come to us personally. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. I can just imagine this Christmas God coming to you and saying, “Do you believe we just did this?”
In just a few moments, he will be born here on the altar. I can imagine the Trinity – God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – saying, “Do you believe we just did this?” As you come forward to receive Communion, and God comes into you and is born into your hearts with the Trinity saying, “Do you believe that we just did this?”
We hear in the Gospel that the Virgin would conceive and bear a son. He shall be named Emmanuel, which means God is with us. And, just like those three men visited Gene, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit want to come and visit you. Are you willing to welcome him into your home?
So, I want you to think about what you asked for this Christmas. Chances are God wants to give you something more than what we asked for. Gene asked for Christmas cards, and he got a ton of them. But God wanted to show up in the flesh and be present with him. God wants to give us so much more than what we ask for.
I want you to imagine that you are like Gene. Maybe you don’t have terminal cancer, but you are probably in need in some way. There’s probably some brokenness in your heart or in your life or in your families or in your friends that you need God to come to.
If you are struggling with an illness, God is with us. If you are mourning the loss of a loved one this Christmas season, God is with us. If you are going through a divorce or a difficult time in your family, God is with us. If we are struggling with depression or mental illness, God is with us. If we are not sure what we are doing with our lives, God is with us. If we have been away from the Church or the Sacraments, God is with us. He wants you back home. If there is some sin in our lives that we have not been able to conquer or overcome, God is with us. He can be with you tonight.
Just as Mary and Joseph were preparing for these final days and ready to receive Christ in their hearts, God wants to be born in your heart tonight.
When we receive him and allow him to work in our lives, I can only imagine God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit saying, “Do you believe what we just did?” God wants to do wonderful things in you this Christmas. Have a Merry Christmas and welcome him into your heart.