25 December, 2005
The Rev. Robert C. Granfeldt
Well, FINALLY! It’s finally here!
A most merry and blessed Christmas to you all!
I’m going to try to be brief, tonight, as usual, on these High Feasts of the Church. As
you know, I don’t believe in a lot of talking on these occasions when so much has
already been said, over the days and the weeks preceding, and over the years of our
lives celebrating these great events. So when the occasion finally arrives, it time to
One of the wonderful things about these Feast Days, of course, even beyond the
importance of our worship tradition, is the family and personal customs that develop
over years, decades and even generations!
I’m very much looking forward, as soon as this Service is over, to walking across the
driveway and sitting down to Mary’s family’s traditional Christmas Eve Slovak meal –
loaded with all kinds of goodies signifying all kinds of things, religious and secular –
though, frankly, most of the meanings have long since been forgotten! And the food I’
m MOST looking forward to, believe it or not, is sauerkraut soup! Hey! It’s traditional,
if you’re a Slovak! A night just made for traditions – Church and family.
I have a practice, too, that has become something of a custom, with me – not a
tradition; I haven’t been doing it long enough! – and not on Christmas Eve, but during
the week before! I’ve only been doing it here in this parish since we changed our
approach to printing and copying, a few years ago to make more use of our computer.
One of the benefits to computerization is that we’re able to do special bulletins for
these special occasions – particularly Christmas and Easter. And it has become my
custom to search for bulletin art each year – something new, something different,
something beautiful! I get online, I do searches, and I browse! I visit museum
archives all over the world, and I look at everything from primitive wall drawings, to
the masters of the Middle Ages, through the Renaissance, the 18th and 19th
Centuries and right up to the present! And I look at American Art – including Native
American, at European art, at African, Asian and Polynesian Art. I’ve come to enjoy it,
and I look forward to it. It’s a lovely way to approach Christmas.
This year, I was struck by this one – and I knew, immediately, I wanted to share it with
you as a reminder of something important.
A reminder that we human beings are bound by the limits of our own experience, and
that it’s easy to develop tunnel vision – even about our faith! That Christmas is not
about snow and lighted trees and lawn displays and snowmen and Santa Claus and
jingle bells, and shopping, and carols – all of which are pretty much part of our
American Christmas – and, even, about a Northeastern American Christmas.
In some places it’s about elephants, instead of reindeer! Palm trees instead of
In Korea, where this Nativity scene comes from, it’s now about 1:30 tomorrow
afternoon! And the small, but vibrant Christian Community is enjoying their Korean
version of Christmas that looks very little like ours – except for one thing: the
worship of God!
So when we strip away all of the cultural accretions and commercialization of
Christmas, wherever in the world we are, that’s what’s left: that’s Christmas:
worshipping God and praising him for sending into the world his Son to show us the
way to live; to show us the path to eternal life!
And, in fact, I would hope we can make it a reminder of an even greater truth than
that! A reminder that Jesus came into the world to save all of humankind – not even
just the Christians. (Jesus, after all, was a Jew! So were his disciples and his
Apostles! And the magi were pagans from the East!)
None of us has an exclusive claim to Jesus. None of us can claim him as ours, and
nobody else’s! All of us must share him with everyone else – even as he shares his
love with everyone! The Babe was born to all humankind, and in the end, we must
believe that the inexorable love that brought God into the world in the first place,
enfleshed, to live and die as a human being, will win all over – however long it takes,
whether in this life or the next! Because his love cannot be defeated. And it’s the
inexorability of that love we celebrate, this night!
So I meant this bulletin picture as a gift for you – to remind us all that Jesus Christ
entered the world as the Savior of all the world!
In his name. Amen.
|Calvary Episcopal Church,