Wednesday, December 11, 2013

All the pretty lights...

( I apologize for the green highlighting below- either I or Blogspot is having some difficulties and I can not "unhighlight" a few paragraph- so decided to go with it and write another post, instead of trying to "fick it" as my daughter said when she was two- and yes half the time it sounded like something else!)

Our farmer's market is continuing through the winter, thanks to the availability of some toasty warm greenhouse space at the nursery. Saturday morning, we moseyed on over there to buy our poinsettia, gets some fire oven baked pizza, from the chilled, brave and very pregnant vendor outside, think she was hoping the shock of cold might finally send her into labor, she is three days over due. Bought some locally made sausage and buffalo steak, some hot house tomatoes and kale.
Also went to a Christmas Arts and Craft show at the local brew pub where we got a few gifts and jewelry, along with some much unneeded but yummy handmade chocolate. It was a very pretty and festive day, with beautiful decorations, trees and well, prayer flags, lotus symbols along with ornaments for those who love Twitter and Facebook. What I did not see, though I didn't think about it until driving home, was a Creche or Nativity scene of Joseph, Mary and the Baby Jesus...

In fact, last year I remember also noticing the lack of the "Holy Family" amongst the decorations, I did see a Buddha themed Christmas tree though.

This isn't a post bemoaning  how we have taken Christ out of Christmas, because I'm not sure Christ has ever wanted to be the inspiration for winter time festival declared by the Catholic Church to give an alternative to the pagans who were celebrating the Winter Solstice...

God has always proclaimed his dislike for festivals, no matter how well, festive and pretty they are. In Isaiah...
 "I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, 
They have become a burden to Me. I am weary of bearing them." 1:14

He has always warned against traditions, monuments and festivals. Why? Because as Paul says in 
Romans 1:25, it is too easy for us to exchange the Creator for the Created. 

Christmas is great, it comes in the dark of winter, when the grey skies are looming, the decorations, the lights, the music bringing good cheer. But for one, Christ wasn't even born in December. He was born during lambing season, so probably April, "the shepherds out tending their flock by night".

The other reality is that there is not much in the decorations of Christmas that actually do not have a pagan root to them, most especially the beloved Christmas tree. The tradition starting in Germany way, way, way before  Prince Albert brought it to Queen Victoria and the rest of Europe.

 It really isn't that much of a stretch, in the dead of winter, when everything else has lost it leaves between the white span of snow and grey skies, that the Evergreen would be a symbol of life, as is any light in the dead of winter...

My roots are in the far North, in Denmark and we still keep lights in the windows in the dead of winter. The light a beacon for travelers and to provide warmth and security in the darkness. It is the light, such a part of Christmas, the strings of lights surrounding our trees and framing our house that truly hearkens to Christ, the light of the world....
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming
 into the world. He was in the world, and though the world
 was made through him, the world did not recognize him. John 1:9-10

Even back in Isaiah, his coming was hearkened to with the symbolism of light...

The people walking in darkness  have seen a great light;on those living
in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9: 2

 I love Christmas, it is absolutely beautiful, a festive start to a long winter. A chance for families and friends to come together.There is so much history in the cultures that celebrate it. 

How much Christ is actually in this Winter Festival is our choice and it is certainly hard to keep the focus on him, I haven't even mentioned the horrid aspect of well what starts with "Black Friday" and doesn't end until "Boxing Day", whether that is packing up the old to make ready for the new or if that means a mad rush to the stores to buy even more then what was under the tree. 

But it is hard to keep the focus on him, any time of the year. Guess what, Easter is no better, the Christian, pagan and well commercial traditions in a great swirl. 

What is so important about Christmas, to quote Dr. Seuss...

"And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. 
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. 
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. 
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Sadly, that is as close as the festiveness of Christmas will allow the contemplation to go. The sentiment echoed in classic movies like...

It's A Wonderful Life

We like the residual-ness of what Christ brings, but it is safer on the edge of it, where we have the control. 

is declared from cards, banners and lights on the hillsides of towns. But rarely is the whole verse quoted..
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

That last bit of a downer- "on whom his favor rests". 

So why is Christmas important, if it has been so, well, adulterated? It is the time of year, if not the wrong time, that maybe, we will focus just for a moment on the story. The story of a young girl, who might have been as young as twelve years old, who God blessed and cursed with being the mother of the Messiah. God did not "clue in" everyone else, only visiting Joseph a few times in dreams. But Joseph did marry her and the Christmas story unfolded.
The Nativity scenes still needs to be set out, the scene of Mary and Joseph, with the Wise Man and the shepherds needs to hold its ground in this Winter Festival that all to easily starts to loose it's Light.


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