Archives: Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Are Not the Same Thing

We made it! We’ve arrived!

Every bow has been tied, every stocking has been stuffed, every cookie has been baked and every Christmas tree light has been lit.

Or if that’s not all done, well, it’s too late now, so don’t worry about it.

The storm is over and we have gathered in a quiet country barn with the family who found no room at the inn to see and experience the miracle that changed the world.

This is the most sacred hour of the year. The whole world hushes to anticipate the arrival of the incarnate God, our savior Jesus Christ being born.

The interesting thing is that along with all the holiness and awe, there is a great deal of pain. Continue reading

The Church as the Infant Body of Christ: We’re Just Getting Started

I think we can all agree that the Church has been pretty ineffective in general at both sharing and living the gospel, and 2016 was probably one of our worst years on record.

If the measure of the Church is its ability to bind up the brokenhearted and seek justice in the earth, our record looks extra lame this year.

From the paranoid, truth-free politics of the U.S. election to our paralyzed gawking at slaughter and starvation in Syria, 2016 was pretty much a bust.

And when I say “the Church,” I mean that on all possible levels.

I mean the three specific congregations I have served this year, my diocese, the Episcopal Church USA, the Anglican Communion, worldwide Christianity and the Church Universal.

Actually, I basically mean everyone making some kind of effort to do right in the world, whether he or she takes on the label of “Christian” or not.

After all, Jesus said, “whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40).

So we’re basically crap at our job.

Suffering is at an all time high.

There is an edge of despair in our society right now that seems to render “peace on Earth, goodwill toward all people,” a cruel mockery.

Add the veneer of “ho, ho, ho,” and “deck the halls” and it becomes almost grotesque.

What do we do? Continue reading

Christmas is a Choice

Christmas is not an event.

Christmas is not a holiday.

Christmas is not a church service.

Christmas is not a set of familiar carols or decorations of red and green or a jolly man in a red suit with eight tiny reindeer.

Christmas is not an occasion or a party or a festival. It is not a piece of history or time off work or a gathering with family.

All of these things are connected to Christmas, but fundamentally, Christmas is not an event.

Christmas is a choice.

Christmas is a choice that we make every year, and that we must make over and over again every day of the year.

Choice and lack of choice place us in one of two positions: one of vulnerability and one of power and control.

When we don’t have a choice about something, we are vulnerable to that circumstance. We can’t defend ourselves from that reality.

That situation acts upon us and we simply have to make the best of it.

It’s not a very fun place to be sometimes.

When we have a choice about our situation, we have power and control.

We can influence our surroundings and how they affect us.

So you’ll be glad to hear that Christmas is a choice that we have, that we can make.

Christmas cannot simply happen to us without our consent.

We have to say yes to a very specific decision, which I will explain in a bit. But again, first let’s talk about lack of choices and the vulnerable position that creates. Continue reading

O Come All Ye Faithful, Bored and Irritated

Why are we here tonight? 

That’s actually a more complex question than we might think. 

Many of us are here out of habit and/or tradition.  We’re here either because we come to this church every Sunday and Christmas Eve is part of the deal, or we’re here because we simply always go to church on Christmas and Easter. 

We might be here because our parents made us come, or we might be here for the sake of the children or grandchildren.  We might be here to sing favorite carols and see the greenery and just generally feel festive. 

I’m here because it’s my job to be here, in addition to wanting to be here, of course.  Every one of those reasons is a fine and good reason to be in church tonight. 

But I’m wondering if there might just be another reason working in the background, whether we realize it or not. Continue reading