Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Break Bread.

Sometimes, advertising just flat-out gets it right.

As in the case of the Panera Bread ad that appeared in Thursday’s USA Today.  It’s a vision of a day in which polar opposites, bitter enemies, “lions and lambs” sit down together.  Of course, Christians know this day is on its way, and that our joy is seeing glimpses of this reconciliation in the here and now.

Here’s the ad … let me know if you can’t read the text:

Break Bread.

Since it’s Christmas, this reminds me of the poignant story of German and British soldiers who called a “Christmas Truce” in the trenches of World War I, climbing out of their fox holes to drink wine, share cigarettes, and sing carols.

Breaking bread. There may not be a more important act in the universe, especially when it facilitates reconciliation.  May it be so this Christmas.

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Advent Reflection Video

Christine Sine created a very nice reflection video for Advent.  We watched this in our group the other night, and it spurred on some good conversation.

What are you waiting for this Advent?

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Forgot to add this: I’d be remiss if I didn’t share this podcast that I’m about 3/4 of the way through on the history of Christmas in America.  It debunks many of the myths, addresses the alleged “war on Christmas,” explores the Puritan and Pagan influences, and much more.  Very informative … a must-listen for the holiday season.  Enjoy! (HT: Fousty)

Waiting …

Advent. “Coming.” “Arrival.”

Many of us from Evangelical or low church traditions have little history with the several weeks leading up to Christmas.  I feel like I am just seeing the tip of the iceberg that is Advent.  But I’m realizing that the arrival of the gift means so little without the anticipation of said gift.  In the case of Christmas, the gift being Jesus, the conduit of reconciliation and justice once and for all.  My friend Beth, an Episcopalian from whom I learn much about liturgical faith, maintains that Christmas cannot and should not be separated from its eschatalogical character.  Meaning the world “put to rights” in the new heavens and the new earth.  We do believe this is what Jesus — “God made flesh” — brings, right?

But before the realization of the new heavens and the new earth, there is groaning.  And waiting.  Anticipation, yes.  Glimmers of light breaking through the darkness, yes.  But groaning and waiting.  That’s what Psalm 77, our Psalm in today’s Advent readings, is about.

Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?

I don’t know about you, but that sounds familiar.  But wait, a glimmer of light shines through the darkness:

Then I thought, ‘To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.’

The Psalmist remembers what God did for the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. That they grumbled at their discomfort, at the injustice around them — and God delivered them.  That miraculously, God redeemed his people.  That’s what God does.  He redeems.

That’s what Christmas is about — redemption.  But Advent is important because we need to groan, to wait, to anticipate the completion of this redemption.  I just have to share Beth’s “Advent plan.”  I like it.  I’m developing more of a plan year by year.  Beth’s definitely got the wheels turning this year.  Check it out:

1. A “waiting list.” I’m going to make a note every time I see something which can be explained by the fact that we are still waiting for the new heavens and the new earth. (“It’s not supposed to be this way.”) I expect this to happen quite a lot.
2. Pray for the coming of the Kingdom. Although I say the Lord’s Prayer at least twice a day, I don’t really spend much time asking in a focused way for the Kingdom to be realized.
3. Re-read NT Wright’s Surprised by Hope. Even though it talks about Easter, the book meshes very well with the traditional Advent theme of the Four Last Things.

Imagine how joyous Christmas morning will be after a season commemorated in those three ways? Thoughts?

By the way, I highly recommend Beth’s blog: Until Translucent. I stole the photo above from her blog as well, along with the idea to make it my computer desktop throughout Advent. I’m such a thief.

Bourne is the king of Israel

Just thought of this one.

We don’t even know what we’re singing sometimes

We were in the car last night driving back from Newport, R.I., with Chrissy’s mom, and we were listening to Christmas music.  Josh Groban’s amazing rendition of “O Holy Night” came on, and we were glued.  But when he launched into the oft forgot third verse of the classic hymn, I was reminded of the power and importance of its lyrics.  And I was reminded how often we sing this without living into its meaning.

“O Holy Night” is many people’s favorite Christmas carol, but what would happen if those people (including myself) lived as if these lyrics were true in 2009?

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O, hear the angels’ voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.
Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Behold your King.
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Shhh, it’s a conspiracy.

These are uncertain times, economically speaking. But according to a recent poll by American Research Group, Inc., Americans this year will still spend close to $500 per person extra this Holiday season — mostly on gifts.

We will spend beyond our means and receive items we don’t even need, while non-profits serving our communities struggle just to get by. With charitable donations and government grants down drastically this holiday season, many non-profits are cutting way back, threatening the very services that are central to their mission.

Here’s a thought: What if every American “skipped” the bulk of Christmas consumerism this year, instead donating a good portion of that money (if not all) to an organization that is helping people?

Join us in making the holiday season about loving our neighbors as ourselves. Give to a charity that is special to you. Give some money to allow another person or two access to clean water. Or, you are welcome to join us in giving to these wonderful Boston non-profits:

Generations Incorporated

ZUMIX

East Boston Social Centers

Whatever you do, make a change this Christmas.