For the first five years of my ministry, I served a small church
bereft of young children. Christmas presented the perfect opportunity to delve
into the mystery of the incarnation; our Christmas Eve services dripped with
candle wax and Christology.
In my new call as an associate pastor at a large suburban
congregation, I'm responsible for the Christmas Eve pageant.
As a pastor in New York City, I've found myself challenged to think more deeply about “stuff." I've come to believe that the truth about what we too casually name “materialism” is not so simple. It ought to be clear, after all, that God doesn’t hate stuff. Witness the creation story. God invents stuff. At the end of each of six days, God engages in self-congratulation, pronouncing serial evening benedictions on the stuff created that day: “Good!”
On a nasty night, Christmas Eve 1965, members of my family walked into my father’s hospital room. We had just returned from my grandparents’ home, where we had celebrated a Swedish smorgasbord, caroled and opened presents. The sideboard boasted turkey, meatballs, limpa bread, inlagd sill, lutfisk, spritz cookies and svensk plum pudding.
Those of you who are preachers: are you working on your Sunday sermon
yet? We didn't think so. Perhaps you'll find this extra lectionary post
helpful in planning those other little services you have to worry about
first—it's based on the Nativity readings. The writer is Tom Steagald,
who will be taking us through the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany.