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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas as season

Growing up Methodist, I attended a church that followed the liturgical year; not all Methodist churches do. By the time I was 10 or 11, I had noticed that the ministers wore stoles of different colors as the weeks went by. I soon obtained a workable understanding of the liturgical year, although a few decades would pass before I appreciated its significance in juxtaposition to everyday life.

We emerged from Advent at sunset yesterday, and we've entered 12 days of the Christmas season. I like to think of Christmas as a season, not merely one day. Merchandising and sentimentalism, such as Rudolph, often overwhelm Christmas the day but they fade quickly, and Christmas the season is still with us.

It's true that in the Christmas season, the joy of the 25th is followed by sobering remembrances of Stephen, John, and the Holy Innocents. However one understands the Incarnation, it did not by itself magically and instantaneously rid the world of evil. It did, however, create a new path for humanity. These 12 days are a calling to reflect on that new path and recommit to one's journey on it.

Aside from theology, will the tree downstairs last until Epiphany? I don't expect miracles.