Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Quiet Christmas

It was such big news in Israel that King Herod had to learn about it from some foreign dudes more than a year after it happened.

Shepherds lying around in the fields just a few miles from where it happened were oblivious.

No big deal.

The birth of most babies born in this world is no big deal to anyone except the immediate family and friends of the parents. Babies are born every day. No big deal.

Unless the baby is born to a king and queen, prince and princess, president and first lady.

Or Madonna. (Oh, the irony there!)

You even get the sense that Mary and Joseph didn't quite get what was happening to them, even with the angels talking to them.

Jesus was born, and it was no big deal.

My, oh my, what have we done with his birth?

If we wanted to have a quiet Christmas, would we be able to? Maybe seal ourselves off in a room somewhere and don't come out for a month or so. Don't watch T.V. Don't go online. Certainly don't go to any malls.

Even then, I don't know that it's possible. A quiet Christmas? Does that constitute an oxymoron?

I wonder if many of us feel that a quiet Christmas would be a lonely Christmas. No parties to attend, no meals to share, nobody to exchange gifts with. There are probably people who have those kinds of Christmases, but they don't sound like much fun. They sound depressing. Avoid at all costs.

So we have active, lively, music-filled, decorated Christmases. Nothing wrong with that. I love the parties, the music, the decorations at Christmas. Last Monday the staff attended the Adult II Christmas luncheon at Ceresville Mansion, and a few hours later a dinner at the Red Horse Steakhouse for area ministers sponsored by Keeney & Basford Funeral Home.

Broiled scallops wrapped in bacon. Mmmm.

I like it all--the parties, the decorations, the music--both secular and religious--the traditions. I like the Christmas productions like "Imagine Christmas" that we are doing next week. (It is really going to be cool; we are tapping into some unseen talent that I think you are really going to enjoy.)

But the trend is moving away from quiet. From reflection. From worship.

A guy at a Wal-Mart gets trampled to death because a crowd can't wait to get in and save 25% on a plasma T.V.? They actually took the hinges off the door and stampeded into the store. People even bumped into rescue workers trying to do CPR on the poor guy.

No, this isn't going to be rant against a mindset that killed a man. Too easy.

But maybe the Church ought to find a way to try to reverse the trend toward Christmas madness, standing against a cultural mindset of bigger is better, more is better, most is better, better is better.

Trying to move our culture toward simpler, quieter, more reflective.

Maybe, just maybe, singing "Silent Night, Holy Night" by candlelight at the end of our Christmas Eve service ought to be seen as the first act in a counter-cultural revolution to bring Christmas back to the way it began.

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