I don't much like the days and weeks after Christmas. Christmas takes so long to get here, with preparations and anticipation building from mid-November on. And then, sometime during the day of December 25, it all collapses.
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Everyone who has ever sat through a performance of the Messiah knows what’s next: “For unto us a child is born . . .” Handel’s exuberant chorus is probably playing in your mind right now: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace . .
The story of Jesus, at least the way John tells it, begins unspectacularly. “There was a man sent by God, and his name was John.” What does John do for a living? He is a preacher. We can’t get to Jesus without going through a witness, no epiphany without preaching.
Recently I went to see the newly acquired 18th-century Neopolitan crèche at Chicago’s Art Institute. The giant crèche fills a 15’X15’ cabinet. It will be exhibited for only five weeks because the dozens of terra cotta figurines, each about five to eight inches tall, are dressed in handmade embroidered fabrics too fragile to be exposed to the air year-round.