Beyond the Pulpit

December 2017

Greetings; may the grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord be with you all.

I admit it, I am looking forward to the movie, “The Man Who Invented Christmas.”  It proposes to tell us the story of how Charles Dickens came to write ‘A Christmas Carol.”   It stands as perhaps His most beloved work (certainly my favorite), and it has had a great influence on how we celebrate Christmas in our modern world.  I admire the work and the man and believe there is much to be learned from Charles Dickens, but he did not invent Christmas.  But he did perhaps more than most to call the world to reconsider what Christmas is all about.

So, as we approach the start of the Advent and Christmas Seasons, I want to share a piece from another writer, Ann Weems.  She is a Christian writer and poet who has been pretty well known around Presbyterian Circles for more than 30 years.  I believe that she has a lot to say to us about Christmas too. The following is are excerpts from a poem, “This Year Will Be Different” which can be found in her book, Kneeling In Bethlehem (1980, pg. 65)

“Who among us does not have dreams that this year will be different?
Who among us does not intend to go peacefully,
 leisurely, carefully toward Bethlehem…
Who among us does not yearn for time
for our hearts to ponder the Word of God?

 This year we intend to follow the Star instead of the crowd.
But, of course, we always do
intend the best.

 This year when we find ourselves off the path again
 let’s not add yet another stress to our Advent days,
that of “trying to do Christmas correctly”!

Instead, let’s approach the birth of our Lord
with joyful abandon!

And this year
let’s do what Mary did and rejoice in God,
let’s do what Joseph did and listen to our dreams,
let’s do what the Wise Men did and go to worship,
let’s do what the shepherds did and praise and
glorify God for all we’ve seen and heard!

 As for the Advent frantic pace, we don’t have time for that.
We’ll be too busy singing!
This year will be different!”

What will you do to make this year different?  By being “different,” I mean different in two ways.  Different from how you personally have done Christmas in the past, and how will your observance of Christmas be different from the secular culture around us?  Will you celebrate the season in all its “glory” as Dickens has so deeply influenced?  Or will you celebrate the love of God that brought the miracle of the Incarnation that has changed the world?  Will your song of “Joy to the World” celebrate the end of an exhausting month, or will it be in honor of the birth of the child in Bethlehem?

There is much to enjoy in this season, both sacred and secular.  Let all the wonders of this season warm your heart and bring smiles to your faces, just as it finally did for Ebenezer Scrooge.  But never forget that the real miracle behind the season and real reason for the season is the Incarnation and the love that caused it to happen.

“And as Tiny Tim would say, ‘God bless us, everyone.’”

Yours in Christ,  Mitch