Celebrating Christmas – for Heaven Touched the Earth
Each year anew: "Ten minutes by the Crib" in Schoenstatt
(mkf) Schoenstatt was dusted with snow over night, "white Christmas" thus marking the opening of the annual "Ten Minutes by the Crib" on December 26. Young families with children, young adults, senior citizens from Vallendar and the wider Koblenz, Westerwald, and Hunsrück area – altogether approximately 350 persons – braved the snow and sleet and came to join in the singing and the praying, and to entrust their loved ones to the Divine child and the prayer of the Schoenstatt Sisters, doing so by writing their names on paper stars that are placed by the crib. Each year anew, thousands of persons head for the Adoration Church in Schoenstatt, since the "The minutes by the Crib" were first offered in 1997.
"We are celebrating Christmas, for heaven touched the earth 2000 years ago. We believe that heaven touches the earth again, here and now. And this is what we want to share with all those who come here," one Schoenstatt Sister of Mary said, when asked about the objective of her and her co-sisters' annual commitment. "It's for the people. We want to reach out also to those who do not go to church. All may come to Jesus." The Schoenstatt Sisters from Mount Schoenstatt are taking turns in the program in the Adoration Church, as well as in the former barn, where tea and cookies are served. Many Schoenstatt members from different branches are also involved – with great joy!
Over half an hour before the beginning at 3:00 PM on December 26, visitors arrived on Mount Schoenstatt and came to the Adoration Church. "My daughter from Frankfurt is visiting with us," said a Vallendar lady. "We saw the posters and so we knew when it would begin. I came last year, but I wanted my daughter to also experience this!" Senior citizens from a home in Vallendar, a group of seniors who spent Christmas in the Schoenstatt Center in Maria Rast near Euskirchen, and patients of a rehab center in Lahnstein came by minibus; many others came by car. "I don't care about the snow," says a man from Vallendar. "I don't want to miss on that!" A couple from Koblenz read the note about the "Ten minutes by the Crib" in the local newspaper. "Of course we wanted to come and see what happens there!"
Children are the Center of Attention
Children on the arms of their parents, in baby carriages, toddlers who set out to explore the crib on their own, kindergarten children and grade school children with the new doll, flute or sledges are present – and the center of attention. The little ones receive small bells or tambourines; the older ones are invited to participate as shepherds, star carriers, or to be Mary and Joseph. A little girl beams with joy when asked whether she wants to take part. "I want to carry the star!" Her mother takes a brush to refresh the girl's hairdo, and then she is ready to go. To the tune of a Christmas song, she leads the procession of a number of children – some of them dressed as Mary and Joseph, and shepherds. Short texts, some read by children, and Christmas songs alternate during the following minutes. The message is simple: Christmas is not a sweet memory only, Christmas is not only the recall of a fairy tale, Christmas – the birth of Christ – is real, and becomes a reality in our lives.
All may come to Jesus
There are no boundaries, no restrictions – everyone is welcome. "All may come to you, Jesus, child in the crib," is one of the central texts. "You are so small – I do not be afraid of you. You are so simple – I do not need to be perfect by you. You are love. I may be with you forever. All may come to you, Jesus, child in the crib – shepherds and kings, strong ones and weak ones, all – me too." Those who are not present, those far away – in distance measured in miles, measured in friction, or measured in lack of faith –, and those in need may come, also. The participants, adults and children, are invited to write the names of their loved ones, or of those entrusted to their care, on paper stars and place these by the crib. Some wrote already when they came and sat down, before the prayer service began – they knew from the previous years. Children are the first ones to walk ahead and place a star by the crib; some children walk through the church and collect stars in little baskets.
My Star by the Crib
A woman stayed in the back of the church, remaining silent almost all of the time. In the moment of stars, she takes one and writes on and on. "Sister, I need to go now, I can't stay longer. Can I bring my star and then go?" She goes to crib, places her star there, and leaves. A little boy standing in front of a man in his fifties silently holds the basket to him. The man hesitates, then takes a pencil and writes, places the star in the basket, and says: "Thank you, boy." – "Jesus, only you know what is behind the names and the words written on these stars – may heaven touch the earth, here and now." The Schoenstatt Sisters pray for each one who comes to the crib in these days, and for each one whose name is written on a star.
"Silent night, holy night" closes the prayer service. For about 15 minutes, Christmas songs are sung; those who want can sing along, others go ahead an look at the crib, others go to the Founder Chapel and take a sentence from Father Kentenich, "a word for 2001". All are invited to go to the barn for tea and cookies. Some stay long and share with friends whom they happen to meet, and with the sisters. Children can write a letter to Jesus. "We thought we were too late," says a young mother, "it was almost over when we came. I am so glad to know this will continue, we'll come again!"
Meanwhile, it is dark, and some sisters are putting the last leaflets, bells, and pens aside. A young man is sitting in the church, a star in his hands, a name written on it. Slowly, he adds another name, and then goes to the crib. "Nobody should be forgotten," says one of the sisters. "No," he says, placing the star by the crib. "Nobody."
Letzte Aktualisierung: 29.12.2000 2:26 Mail: Redaktion / Webmaster
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