St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Bolivar, Missouri

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Still celebrating Christmas: the sixth day
About that carving above?
It’s from 250 AD – in a stone wall. The best part? Look closely – Joseph in there with his head in his hands – like “How did I get into this, anyway?!” Or maybe, “Why did I bring Mary on such a hard journey, to end up in a stable?” I suspect his first “Christmas” was awkward, and that he worried like all good dads about his wife, the new baby – the company he didn’t invite – but who showed up stammering about angels in the fields.

Still celebrating Christmas It’s odd though isn’t it? The rest of the world has moved on – Christmas is “over.” But here we are, at least in my house, playing Christmas music ALL day long and into the evening. Slowly opening gifts. Still baking festive bread. Still reading Christmas stories.
I imagine your holiday has been, may still be, well, complicated. We had a few minor disasters, including a falling-over tree, some minor culinary mishaps, a couple of presents that haven’t arrived (not the fault of the PO – we were slow to order them,) a few sibling squabbles. I forgot to hang Debra’s banners. And I dripped wax on my gold chasuble Christmas Eve, which isn’t a big deal; it can be removed, but it made me sad, remembering how hard Virginia worked to make it for me. And I was missing my dad acutely, too, as the children listened to a recording of him reading stories to Becca as a little girl. Nostalgia. Fun. Memories. Some anxiety about the nation’s future. Sadness that people I love are getting weaker, sicker, frail-er. But in the midst of it, also, deep joy and hope for the very long view – and gratitude, including for the life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

How do we hear this story of the Incarnation ?

How might other people see themselves in this story?
We know that most of the artists with whom we are familiar are – or were – European. The baby Jesus is often golden-haired, as if his mother. Of course that wasn’t true. The artists likely knew that. But they portrayed him like themselves, because he belonged to them – and they belonged to him. They saw themselves in the story. That was good and right. Jesus came as a Palestinian Jewish infant – but he transcends that. Our American problem is that we are sometimes shocked by seeing depictions of Jesus that represent other cultures. But they also belong to him. And he belongs to them. And they are right to see themselves in the story, too. I plan to share some of these over the next few days. You might share them with your children and talk about what it means that Jesus belongs to us all.



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