Here for the buffet

Scripture, theology Comments Off on Here for the buffet

Band-Tailed Pigeons

Band-Tailed Pigeon

Band-Tailed Pigeon

Band-Tailed Pigeons

Merry Christmas

considerations Comments Off on Merry Christmas
Nativity by Barocci

nativity

change of pace Comments Off on nativity
Nativity by PDO

Genesis 37:23-24

change of pace Comments Off on Genesis 37:23-24
Joseph, at the Beginning of his Exaltation by PDO

advent

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But the advent of the Lord will appear superfluous and useless, if He did indeed come intending to tolerate and to preserve each man’s idea regarding God rooted in him from of old.

–Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book III, 12.6

Christmas miscellany

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Santa Claus, he of broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly, has a more interesting past than most know.

For instance,it seems he was kicked out of the Council of Nicea for hitting a heretic. Rhetoric wasn’t enough for this man of action when it came to defending the faith.

Read more about Saint Nicholas. Different parts of the Church may disagree about how to view the Saints, but we should all, at the very least, honor those who in their eras sought to pursue Christ with the utmost of their being.

Such biographies make for helpful lessons in our own struggles.

December 21, 2005 10:35 AM PST

Scripture Comments Off on December 21, 2005 10:35 AM PST

Shorts, t-shirt, bottle of water, and a bit of Pannenberg while sitting on the deck. It’s 65 degrees at 5200 feet above sea level.

Merry Winter to you.

Winter Solstice

Christmas tidbits

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For your holiday trivia delight, here’s a little bit about Christmas cards and here’s an interesting introduction to reindeer in which we are reminded of this holiday truth: “Of course, it’s entirely possible that a male reindeer with the power to fly also has the power to keep his antlers through the holidays.”

Tis true, tis true.

Christmas Miscellany

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Here’s an odd thought which just occurred to me, so I haven’t had time to gauge its worth. The much maligned commercialization of Christmas has created a significantly more community holiday than the spiritualizing of Christmas.

Because of the crass marketing, we have to spend a goodly amount of time thinking of those we know, buying them the right gift or at the very least sending a card wishing them the best. We receive gifts and share food and go to parties and have conversations with people who we may not talk to until the next Christmas celebration.

However, a Christmas solely consisting of religious observance wouldn’t have any of that. We would go to our various services, trapped in our sphere of decadent devotions, Praising Father and Son for all they have done, little noting those who are right next to us. We would speak our liturgies in monotone cooperation, the words echoing off the walls and little elsewhere. Then we would speak words of peace, brief acknowledgements of people whose name we don’t even know, having done our religious service for Christ and Kingdom.

It would be a somber event, requiring no travel, no interaction, no consideration of any other. Christmas would be like Pentecost, a grand day of honoring the work of God by doing hardly anything signifying the real meaning. We would wear our advent colors and sing festive hymns but have nothing pointing us more outward past our usual self-centeredness. Jesus would, like he always does, act as our personal savior and Lord, so personal in fact we would rather do without most everyone else mucking up our devotionals.

Yet, the commercializing of Christmas snaps us out of our persistent isolation. We have to, by culture’s rule, spend money on others, talk with others, shape our lives so that others are convenienced, often inducing season weariness due to our social exertions. We give, and give, and give, so much that the extent of giving becomes a sign of our improvidence. Instead of devoting our entire religious zeal towards an altar and a few men at front we swing widely the other way, using this as a time to celebrate and solidify our community.

We are filled with good cheer for others, and they are filled with good cheer for us. That is the bounty of a commercialized Christmas, which in a perverse way honors our togetherness in a way the Church merely rhetorically symbolizes.

Matthew 25 notes this peculiar interaction Jesus had with his followers:

I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

The commercialized Christmas causes us to reach out in ways the purely religious Christmas never would. Sure we would honor the coming of the Christ child, but would not think past our attendance at liturgies or other religious acts. It would be a Church thing, for which we would dress up and honor our devotion to a noble cause. Then we would go home, no different than other times of the year.

Our present mode of church life would not encourage our right response but would continue our tradition of something other.

Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

A commercialized Christmas may seem to make just these mistakes, ignoring those in need for those we know. Yet, a non-commercialized Christmas would certainly be no better. Rather than having a semblance of thought for anyone, no matter their level of need, we would do our religious duty and worship Jesus in exclusion to considering anyone else. This is how our churches function, when left to purely religious emphasis. Only when we are snapped out of this do we think of others, and only in the commercializing of Christmas are we really snapped out of our insulated rituals to spend a moment thinking outwards.

Somehow, by the emphasis being removed from the scene in the manger we may just be getting a sense of how Jesus would want us to celebrate. He certainly wants our devotion, but it seems our devotion to him is less caught up in overwrought rites and more about using our zeal in ministering to others. And, at this time of year, this ministry is all about good cheer, gift-giving, peace making and celebrating the lives of those in our lives. We are motivated to reach out to those who have little, and share what we have as others share with us. In this we have communion, real communion, instead of the anemic so-called communion our churches exemplify.

So break the jar of the most expensive perfume and wash the feet of all those you know. Celebrate Christ by celebrating the body of Christ, honoring God in the joy of our interactions with others, taking this rare time of the year to truly acknowledge those around us, knowing that every other week we can return to our somber, isolated religious commemorations.

the art of Christmas

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Mystical Nativity by Botticelli In keeping with a theme here at some point I intend to do a Stations of Christmas. However, that point didn’t come this year.

So much of the Christmas story has been sanitized for popular consumption. In reality there’s a lot of pain, and frustration, mixed in with faith. In our canonizing of the characters we’ve taken them out of the role of examples, and thus remove the story from our own story. This makes for a heartwarming tale of Christ’s birth. But, it seems to lose some of the punch which the Gospels intend.

This all being the case, I will at some point work out online my thoughts on the topic.

For now, however, I commend the mini-art show that Onehouse.com is presenting for advent.