Archives: Feast of the Incarnation

Who Counts At Christmas?

We begin the story of Christmas with a sentence from scripture that’s not quite true.

“In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.”

Well, almost all the world.

Everyone who had some kind of position in society, even a working class one, like Mary and Joseph, went to be registered.

Anyone who could conceivably pay taxes was on the Emperor’s list, and had to report in and be accounted for.

It was sort of the first century equivalent of Big Brother/Big Data.

You’re not getting anywhere in America without a social security card, and you couldn’t get anywhere in first century Palestine without being on the Emperor’s list.

If you were taxable, you would be counted.

“All went to their own towns to be registered,” Luke says.

Well, again, not quite all.

Luke himself tells us that in the next paragraph: “In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.”

The shepherds did not return to their hometown to be registered. They were on the very bottom rung of society.

They couldn’t pay taxes, and had fallen so far between the cracks of the Roman Empire that they weren’t even expected to.

They were nobodies.

When it came time for the registration, to show up and present your name and your papers to the government, no one looked for them.

They quite literally didn’t count.

Continue reading

True Confessions of a Grinchy Priest

Okay, St. Francis, I’ve been on board with you now for over a year, and it’s time for me to come clean, publicly, from the pulpit. It’s time for you to know the full truth about your Associate Rector, and I hope you still love me after I tell you.

I’m a Grinch.

It’s true. It’s awful but it’s true.

I do not want to jingle all the way.

I don’t deck my halls—I don’t own a single Christmas decoration, not even a sad Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

I do not ding dong merrily on high, or on low for that matter, nor am I interested in participating in any reindeer games.

I am a Grinch.

There. I said it. Let Father Davies know if you’d like him to ask for my letter of resignation.

Here’s where I need to clarify.

I do love the Feast of the Incarnation.

The birth of the infant Christ is deeply meaningful to me, and the Holy Family are three of my absolute favorite people on earth—I even have an icon of them in my office.

But I do not love American Christmas, which is very different from the Feast of the Incarnation, and every year I find it harder and harder to tolerate.

I know it makes me sound like an 85-year-old telling those kids to get off my lawn, but I can’t help it—the noise, the materialism, the smearing of badly considered theology on top of secular pagan traditions—blech.

It just wears me out. I basically stick my fingers in my ears on the day after Thanksgiving, close my eyes and shout Advent hymns to drown it all out.

But what I’ve gotten up here to tell you today is that this year I’ve received an additional insight as to why I hate American Christmas so much, and it’s actually much closer to the Feast of the Incarnation than I expected.

And to explain it, I have to tell two stories. Continue reading

© 2019 Roof Crashers and Hem Grabbers