December 26th, 2021

As we continue our Adventures in Grace: a pilgrimage we realize how many pilgrimages there are in the Christmas season. I am sure that, even limited by Covid, you and your family have been on many excursions or trips in the past few weeks.  Undoubtedly shopping was turned into an adventure, or more than just a trip, as you checked gift purchases, cooking, dining and decorating items off of your list.

Almost all of us make trips to visit relatives and loved ones, and sometimes these trips or journeys involve very complex itineraries, which generate memories and excitement, even in the midst of restrictions, changes and the ever present weather factor in this part of the world. There is always an intricate balancing of schedules and availability. Undoubtedly, these will continue as we look forward to New Year’s eve and day.

You may or may not know that one of my favorite entertainers, Jimmy Buffett, was born on Christmas Day.  If you haven’t already listened to it, his Christmas album has a special meaning.  He covers some classics such as Melee Kalikimaka, the Hawaiian Christmas song, and So This Is Christmas. As the last song concludes, he reads the ever favorite ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas poem by Clement Clarke Moore.

As is the case with most really talented artists, Buffett adds his own flair to the Christmas story.

One song is entitled “Merry Christmas Alabama.”  Even though he was born just across the Alabama/Mississippi border in Pascagoula, he spent significant portions of his childhood in the Alabama towns of Fairhope and Mobile.

In the song he mentions many of the significant places that he has lived and visited and refers to his pilgrimage as a “long and crazy ride.” 

I mention this because the unique talent of people like Jimmy Buffett can turn trips into adventures. I would like to suggest that is what makes a trip an adventure, and an adventure a pilgrimage.

We here at Holy Family are continually encouraging you to see, identify and share the unique grace that comes with so many trips, which evolve into excursions, which evolve into adventures. If we are open to the grace that flows from these experiences, they form the elements – rest stops, base camps and chapters – in a pilgrimage, a deeply spiritual pilgrimage!

As Advent this year rolled out the carpet for Christmas, we tied it into the ADVENTures in Grace theme.  As we try to do on a regular basis, we put our Holy Family flavor on the classic themes and seasons of our Church year. I hope that our prayerful attention, planning and creativity helps to turn so much of our faith journey into an adventure, and this year in particular as we use the word pilgrimage to describe that adventure. Why do we call it a pilgrimage? Because of the persistent, bold and direct suggestion that all life is filled with grace. Heightening our attention of the grace that flows from everyday life, we can see the entire experience of life as a pilgrimage towards the ultimate destination of a holy union with God and others.

But that union need not be reserved for eternal life. Recognizing grace here and now can create holy unions among us HERE and NOW, giving us glimpses of the holy union that awaits us beyond this life.

Looking at life as a pilgrimage brings a spiritual elevation to the precious gift of life that God has given us. At its heart, this Adventures in Grace pilgrimage is very pro-life. It urges us to name and celebrate the constant flow of grace that is present in the very sacred fabric of our God given lives.

The Christmas pilgrimage continues this week with the Feast of the Holy Family that tells us of one more adventuresome trip, or pilgrimage, that Mary, Joseph and Jesus make fulfilling their religious obligation with a visit to Jerusalem, only to discover that their son apparently went on his own pilgrimage, back to Jerusalem.  Next week we hear of the pilgrimage of Kings in the Epiphany story.

These are not ordinary trips, they are Adventures – full of Grace!

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