Oh, my! I really am behind the times. It tells you something about my life back in the church full-time. Since starting the 1st of November I have had 3 funerals, 2 weddings and 3 baptisms besides staying abreast of the lives of the folks in the congregation. There have been many illnesses and just a lot of balls to keep juggling. I don't know how long this will continue, but finding a pastor who is a good fit for the congregation will be the first step. For now I am committed personally for six months then we will see after that.
Our prairie winter has been startingly absent with brown earth, blue skies and temps in the 40s and 50s right through Christmas Day.
This morning, however, we woke up to lots of snow and a snowfall that continued all day. I used my mini-snow blower, did a little shoveling and then decided to leave it for tonight. The temps say 40 degrees in a few days. Now that we have had a taste of both winter and December, but not winter weather we will have to see how it goes.
I was telling someone today that I don't mind snow and cold, but the snow wouldn't have to come all at once!! How but a few flakes over a week's time? I can take winter much easier in small doses.
The two little girls in the lower picture are Linnea in pink and Lovisa in southern Sweden. Their grandmother is a second cousin of mine. The picture was from their mother who said they don't get snow in southern Sweden where they live, along the Baltic Sea so when they do get it they really have to enjoy! I really enjoy the fact that communications are trans-Atlantic as well.
I preached Sunday the 23rd, then at the candlelight service on the 24th and Christmas Day on the 25. Regardless of the size of the crowd there is the need to do your best. Everything went well and we were able to celebrate the incarnation of our Lord with great joy. Happy New Year!
It is no secret that the Christmas season is a paradoxical time. For the Christian church Christmas or the celebration of the Mass of Christ does not actually begin until Christmas Eve and then continues until New Year’s Eve. Sometimes there is a first Sunday of Christmas, sometimes not. For my mother, growing up on a ranch on the prairies of South Dakota, Christmas parties, and ice skating and programs were all celebrated between Christmas and New Year’s. It just wasn’t Christmas until it was Christmas.
The secular world has changed the rules and Madison Avenue rules the season. The tradition of the Magi bringing gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ Child as gifts for a king, have been translated into piles of presents and a tradition of going into debt for the accumulation of more than we could possibly need.
Decorating our homes inside and out is probably a mirroring of the bright star which hung over the place where the child lay. From Santa Claus, reindeer, stars, trees, bright lights now with music attached we light up our streets with all the colors of the season.
Drinking and eating and piles of food may harken back to Medieval celebrations when the days before Christmas were to be a sober time of prayer, fasting and self examination to prepare ourselves to be ready for the coming of Jesus. When Christmas came all the fasting turned into feasting in excess much as we do now.
Four Sundays before Christmas are known as the Season of Advent, of waiting and preparing for the coming of the Child much as Easter is preceded by Lent and Holy Week in preparation for the resurrection of Christ. In the Christian church, this time is the beginning of the Church Year as we wait in eager anticipation for Christmas.
The parallels of universal celebration and sober reflection run from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. For people who are grieving, there is a real disconnect between what is going on around them and what they are actually living. Some Grief groups meet more often during the holidays. And there is a service called “A Blue Christmas”. How do we find joy when we feel such pain?
The excesses of the season are all around us. In Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” the ghost of Christmas present is portrayed as a drinking, feasting Spirit, while underneath his robe he reveals the children of poverty and ignorance whom society has forgotten. The excesses of Christmas erase the Curry and Ives’ notion that Christmas is all wonder and light. People drink too much, spend too much, eat too much and age-old quarrels can flare when families attempt to come together to heal wounds
Christmas is a very complicated season. We (myself included) love the color and the wonder and the music and the gift-giving and the well-wishing of the season. God meant for the birth of God’s Son to be the high point of joy in our lives. How we prepare for Christmas has everything to do with how we will celebrate Christmas.