Christmas Day: photos, more photos, and a radical – countercultural – challenge

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on Earth, good will to all
– ready for some presents!!

There is something grounding about the years when Christmas falls on a Sunday. It’s Christmas morning, there is magic in the air and there are presents under the tree. Oh… but church starts in another hour. What do we do?

What we do is set aside the focus on our gifts and return our attention to The Gift. There would not be a Christmas morning to celebrate if there had not been the birth of a King, and then the death of a Messiah, and – blessedly – the resurrection of a Savior.

So we opened stockings, we made our way to church, and then we had a long, relaxed gift exchange around the tree in the afternoon. A quiet day, yes, but resonant with love and generosity and thanksgiving.

Christmas Eve:

– with Keith and. Resi Christmas Eve

The tone was set, of course, with candlelight and communion Christmas Eve. First, our friends Keith and Resi came for our “traditional” dinner together before heading to church to worship together.

For me, sharing communion always puts everything into perspective. It’s not just the birth of Christ but the birth of all that becomes possible in his name. Love, light, reconciliation, community, communion, peace, mercy, grace.

Grace really is the word. The Word.

It was cold Christmas Eve. Cold enough to keep a lot of people home. But our hearts were warm, and (while I acknowledge that emotions are likely closer to the surface this year) they had me, absolutely had me on my knees from the very beginning, when two of the Hudson Memorial young people – probably no more than 17 years old – sang a duet of Silent Night/Still, Still, Still.

So we returned home and then we stayed up late, intending to sleep in Christmas morning but, of course, I couldn’t.

Christmas Day:

Quiet. Had I mentioned how quiet Maul Hall was Christmas Day? But it was good. We moved slowly, savoring the generosity and the peace.

We did live video with Naomi and her family when they/we opened mutual gifts, and we enjoyed a marvelous brunch courtesy of Chef Rebekah.

As she said, when the recipe includes that much butter, heavy cream, bacon, and fancy cheese we can’t pronounce then of course you know it’s going to be better than good. But I will give the chef much credit too.

Around the tree, we all had our favorite gifts, both in terms of giving and then receiving. Rebekah and I gifted each other a state-of-the-art Bose sound-bar for the television. Especially designed for aging ears and equipped with enhanced dialogue options!

For Max the answer was simple: He loves grandma’s new rug. We went next door to instal it and he was on it, stretched out, before I had even moved the furniture back in place!

– Max really likes grandma’s new rug!

It’s All Good:

– Rebekah’s new shirt

For gift-giving, this year was, in a word, epic. From the gas grill we gave Craig to my mum’s rug, to nice clothes to various goodies to technology to guitar and ukulele strings and so much more there was such grace in both giving and receiving.

Christmas is at its heart a message of hope and promise in a world in desperate need of both.

Christmas is also a radical intervention that calls us into the same mode. Self-giving love that is countercultural; disruptive; subversive; redemptive.

– that’s right, we wore our Santa hats to church!

Note to self: this week, this coming New Year, never lose sight of the manger, and the life of the newborn King. But – at the same time – let your Savior grow up, and let the risen Jesus challenge your world with his convention-shattering love; and then grow up with him too.

In love, and because of this amazing love – DEREK

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s