Song in the city

Divine birth in a mundane world
One of the most memorable sermons I ever heard—one of the very few I actually remember—was a Christmas Day sermon preached by Charles Leber. At the time he and Ulysses Blake were copastors of First Presbyterian Church on Chicago’s South Side. Leber’s sermon was titled “Another Roman Holiday. ” He explained that the early church chose December 25 to celebrate Jesus’ birth even though everyone knew the birth had happened sometime in the spring. December 25 was the beginning of the Romans’ year-end holiday, which Leber said was quite a bash: seven straight days of eating, drinking and reveling. The Christians did not participate in these revels. They decided to draw attention to themselves by rejecting the celebration. And so, to provide an alternative and to help them resist the sensual temptations of the Roman holiday, they came up with Christmas.

 

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