30 December 2015

Nothing is, "over"

We are told of the coming of God, that the people who were in darkness have seen a great light. What are we to do with that in a secular culture that considers Christmas over after the flood of returned gifts and clearance sales ends. We have not, the secular culture proclaims, seen a great light, unless this year it is the combustion of a hover-board.

Bp.Lee preached in Advent in our parish. His message was not that the secular and commercial aspects of Christmas are wrong. Rather, he called us to slow down, take some time for ourselves, and let the story of a 14 year old girl, some angels, a carpenter, and a birth talk to us.

To the surprise of visitors, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Roman Catholics are still singing Christmas carols in church this week. While the rest of the world rushes off into post-Christmas merchandising, we are singing, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," and, "Joy to the World."

There is still time. Christmas is not over. As Dickens wrote, we can keep it in our hearts all year. There is never a moment when we do not need to be the Jesus movement, and never a moment when the world does not need that movement. From now, today until Ash Wednesday, the liturgy contemplates the Epiphany event, that those in darkness have seen a great light. The lessons, and songs are intended to aid in contemplating what it was we saw in that birth, those journeys, that baby, and eventually, that life.

Take some time, a few minutes a day, and as Mary did, think about those things. What did you see as the couple took their child and fled to Egypt? What are you, am I, fleeing? Will we respond to the call to return?

I believe the best time for a "Children's Pageant" is not Christmas, it is at the Epiphany. After all, "epiphany" means insight. Offering us their understanding of the event, the children can share something very special. We used to do this in my current parish, but the schedule won, it is easier for relatives to see the event if they are making Christmas visits.

But(!)at the end of the season, as the greens come down, this is a good time to ask ourselves what we saw in that stable? Take some time, consider the bravery of a couple of unmarried teenagers, treading through the desert to Egypt as strangers, carrying a divine baby. Why do we think it matters? How should we respond?

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