Seeking peace. Striving for justice. Together.
I can count on one hand the number of times I have spent Christmas in my own home as an adult. We have shared that day with grandparents and other family. In a pre-Amazon era, we hid presents among the luggage and spent those days on the road just like Joseph and Mary. But of course I knew that my bed was there to welcome me when it was all over.
We need to start planning now. We have only 10 years till it is the 800th anniversary of the Nativity Scene. Tradition has it that Saint Francis started the custom upon returning from Bethlehem in 1223. He staged a Nativity Scene in a cave with live animals and people. It went viral and became the thing to do at your cathedral, chapel or palace. At some point statues were substituted for the characters. Then people made smaller versions and the crèche industry was born.
As the horizon of human knowledge expands many traditions and words take on new meanings.
Initially, the Epiphany (gr. epiphaneia - "manifestation") was a festival that was celebrated twelve days after Christmas in order to remember the birth of our Lord, his baptism in the Jordan River and the manifestation of his glory in the celebrations of the wedding at Cana.
When in the fourth century, the Greek Church adopted the Roman date for celebrating Christmas ...
Because it was one of those years when Christmas fell on Sunday, our church decided to have an informal worship service with the general theme of “come in your Christmas sweater.” Sunday was cold, but the sky was clear. People arrived in new sweaters, ties, and one very nice mink coat. The prize in my eyes went to the seven-year-old who rushed down the aisle in his brand new football uniform complete with helmet and pads.
Unlike the treacle of a consumer culture's idea of Christmas, we preach the truth of a rustic story where God shows up as a little light in the messy darkness.
“If I showed up at a church, the walls would probably fall in.” That is, unfortunately, how many unchurched people feel about intersecting with the church. It is their way of saying: My life is too messed up for me to have a place in the church. In Luke 5, the disciples were eating and drinking with tax collectors and those whom the religious community regarded as sinners. The Pharisees thought the disciples should stay with “their own kind,” but Jesus responded: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32) In other words, it’s the very ones who think their lives are too messed up for Jesus who are the ones Jesus invites to share a meal with him.