Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Unto Us - The Truth About Christmas

Here we are just out of the starting gate racing towards the Christmas holiday. I have a number of years experience blogging about holidays, traditions (pagan and Christian), the Culture War in the US and the role of church in them.

There are things I like about Christmas which are simply tradition. There are those that are directly tied to the birth of Jesus. And the rest? Well, I just like it. I enjoy Christmas, and though I am not always spiritually tied to remembering something about Jesus, there is still something I love about Jesus' birthday that makes me meditate on my own need for a savior. It causes me to dwell on God's plan for me. In particular, the part in which this child born to us; who later died on the cross in place of a wretch like me. That gives me significance.

Here is my list of things that make Christmas, Christmas.

-1 Events: I have grown to love The Nutcracker, though I have only seen local productions with tapped music. Even so, the costumes and especially the mice always make me smile. I can't say I've fallen in love with a nutcracker, but I do enjoy the show because each ballet troupe hires a couple of extremely talented dancers for the major scenes. I believe quality in art is godly.

Each year we attend a spaghetti dinner at the Fatima Shrine Monastery to support their missions, and the community. They have beautifully lit grounds, and religious statues. Most years there is snow on the ground which makes it even more enjoyable. In particular there is a crucifix on a small hill which is captivating. A lot of Protestants only see the empty cross, and forget about the torturous sacrifice that Jesus made. There is also an altar in a glade with statues of sheep and other animals. It is a very peaceful and prayerful scene.

We used to take a trip to Boston's Faneuil Hall, but that has been replaced by a trek to Old Sturbridge Village. The historical museum is laid out like a 19th century New England Village. The roads and walkways are lit with candles. Each home or business offers period food, music, or gift making demonstrations. From sleigh rides to traditional Christmas carols in the church, to chestnuts roasting on an open fire, it is a simple and enjoyable experience.

-2 Gifts: I know it sounds materialistic, but I enjoy giving gifts. The sound of wrapping paper being torn amidst the fragrance of pine, and hot chocolate is joyful. The smiles of others who are receiving is another reason that I enjoy giving. It is a blessing.

I have to admit my pet peeve is the rip-fest where everyone opens gifts and there is no interaction with the giver and receiver - or the others in the room.

-3 Trimmings: There are lots of other things that go into a Christmas experience: Wreaths, trees, colored lights, food, candy canes, ribbon candy and cards - I enjoy it all.

-4 Family: I am grateful to be with my family and enjoy the time, the laughs, the exchange of a few gifts, and a meal together. Gone are the days when we would deliver home made bread to the neighbors, bake cookies.

-5 Church: In my Anglican days, I used to enjoy the midnight mass. The flowers, the music, the scriptures, and sometimes a pageant. I enjoy singing Christmas carols. The lyrics to some of them are astounding. In some ways I think we've lost some of the thoughtfulness and introspection through contemporary worship. (which I do love)

Honestly, most of the Christmas services I have gone to in recent years don't do a lot for me. There is nothing special about them. In fact, there doesn't seem to be anything special about Jesus - and I don't know why that is.

-5 1/2: A Savior who was born!


Charlie's Church of Christ said...

I agree that the last few Christmas services I attended were simply just a huge production meant to impress. I'd rather have a simple service, as that more accurately captures the birth of Jesus then huge horns and trumpets and lights and two hundred singers backed by the best band.

Tony C said...

My favorite Christmas in recent memory was a few years ago when Christmas was on Sunday. We attended church together first...then the rest of the day was spent in celebration.


I personally think there should be a Christmas morning service every year regardless of the day of week.

Tracy said...

I'm glad that I read this post since it's already December 1; it's as if the time just crept up on me. I'm realizing that I've got to get into the whole Christmas thing, and get stuff going around our place.

Your post has helped me remember a lot of what I so enjoy at this time of year.


2SenseWorth said...

I loved this.. You described everything "Christmas" and why we love it-both the Christian and traditional sides of the holiday. Great way to bring in December! :-D
I especially appreciated your pet peeve-I also do not particularly enjoy the "rip and tear fest" style of gift giving. Even when myself and my brother were kids we took our time opening presents, all the while nibbling on Christmas breads and goodies, savoring each moment, and keeping that (for lack of a better word)"magical" feeling of anticipation alive a little bit longer! :-)
Christmas is good, Christmas is God.

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