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: Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!  ( 17423 )
Rev. Elizabeth
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« : December 22, 2013, 03:13:23 PM »

Okay. I am giving you fair warning.  I am not going to be politically correct. You all know who I am.  This is the first time in many years that I have not shared the waiting that advent is about, nor written a sermon for Christmas Eve, nor tried to help people to find a balance between the sacred and secular elements that comprise what Christmas  is in our world.
This time of year is difficult for many people. From the assumed pressure to find the perfect gift; be cheerful; bake good cookies; to the sometimes bittersweet memories that the Christmas season evokes, this holiday is not always one of good cheer and chestnuts roasting by the open fire.
If we were to look back, both at the secular traditions, and, the sacred traditions, we would discover that there is a gap between the actuality and the stories we are told. Was there really a census?  Was Jesus really born in a stable?  What is a host of angels, anyway?  We can read the commentaries and discover the historic reality of the nativity story. Perhaps the historic  details may unsettle us; but there is nothing wrong with that.
And Santa Claus and his sleigh and gifts.  Where did that come from, anyway? We can google it; wiki it and find all sorts of answers, some of which cast cold cynical water on a warm fuzzy tradition, some of which might disturb the cozy sentiment we derive from the story, from our own memories of Santa Claus.
We know, too, that our Puritan forebears would fine people who even had a glimmer of Christmas in their homes; it was just any ordinary day to them.
We have read the Dickens story.  We have read Dylan Thomas “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.” And we know too about the Grinch, and Frosty,Rudolph and that little drummer boy.
 Once a year people gather to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or “White Christmas” or “Miracle on 34th Street,” and find meaning and comfort in the sentiments. 
All of this, the facts, the traditions old and new, the tree and presents and food and foolishness have all burdened the Christmas event, weighing it down so that the essence of the story can’t fight its way through, shine its light on the world.
It isn’t about some ‘war on Christmas.’ it isn’t about whether or not to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, or whether Jesus  was ‘white’ or not.  Nor is it about whether or not there really was a ‘host of angels’ or shepherds. 
 If we get caught up in such silliness, we too are missing the point of it all. The Gospel according to John tells us that ‘the word became flesh...and dwelt’ among us, full of grace and truth...’  An old hymn tells us that ‘love came down at Christmas.’
That host of angels sang to the shepherds that they shouldn’t be afraid, for a savior was born who was Christ the Lord...” radical words for its time, considering that the Roman emperor was considered the Lord, the son of God.  When we look a the animals in the creche, the devoted father, the beaming mother, the tiny baby in the straw, we forget the radicality of his birth, how this small child would turn the world upside down. But that’s okay; sometimes we have to hold on to the details that may or may not be real, inorder to delve into the greater truths that lie within the story.
There are so many many different ways of examining Christmas, looking at Christmas, doing Christmas, that what is right and good and true about Christmas gets lost.  And that is that for millions past and present Christmas represents the coming of God’s love into humankind: a gesture of humility that can never be transcended. With that love should come hope.  Yes, hope, that thing with feathers that perches on the soul; hope; that thing that we are supposed to carry with us. Hope and love are active verbs, existing in reciprocity with each other. We can hope because we love; and out of hope can spring love.
I have known many non-Christians who saw the inherent beauty  of Christmas: beauty that comes when, if even for a brief time, there is a glimmer of that light among us; where we forget grievances; where we put aside differences, and celebrate the possibility of love in our world; hope for a time  when as Isaiah wrote and dreamed,
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
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« #1 : December 22, 2013, 06:39:51 PM »

Very well said. Thank you for these words!
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« #2 : December 22, 2013, 09:26:39 PM »

Very nicely done. Thank you .
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