From The Messenger Advent/Christmas 2010
They say that, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Well, quite frankly, I don’t want to know about any of them. Apparently, there’s also more than one way to make minced meat pie. And, if my mother can be believed, you can make minced meat pie without minced meat. It’s the only way she could get me to eat it.
There are many ways to celebrate Christmas. One of the great blessings of immigration to Canada and PEI is that people brought many different traditions with them from many different countries. Different decorations, foods and carols from various traditions have all come together to make our celebration what it is today. The one common factor of course is Jesus Christ.
I saw a sign on the side of a Church that said, “Put Christ back in Christmas.” The sign speaks to a widely held view that we have forgotten that Jesus is the “reason for the season” (to quote yet another sign or bumper sticker). Wouldn’t it be great if we could see those signs and be as dumbfounded as I was—trying to understand how you could make minced meat pie without using minced meat? It’s hardly a revelation to say that you can’t have Christmas without Christ. Why, even the Who’s of Whoville knew that it wasn’t about presents.
Of course, we all know that Jesus is the reason for Christmas and that we should ensure that Jesus Christ is central to our celebrations. But, wouldn’t it be great if everyone could see the word “Christmas” and not miss the Word Christ.
I remember the day, the moment, when Christmas was no longer about presents and food. Believe it or not, I was an adult before I figured this one out. In fact, I was an ordained minister. I had made a long drive home to my parents house on Boxing Day with the understanding that they had delayed their turkey dinner and the opening of gifts for my arrival. They hadn’t and I was disappointed, dare I say that I was angry. But then, like taking off a waterlogged snow suit, I had a moment of understanding (an epiphany). This season of Christmas was about Jesus Christ, it wasn’t about me or my presents or my traditions, it was about God’s love for the whole world.
Like I say, I had been ordained three years before I could truly look at the word “Christmas” and see the Word Christ. Now, I began to understand what I had been preaching about on Christmas eve. God took on human flesh to dwell amongst us. God (as our kin) was born amongst us and that simple act blesses humanity for ever. The salvation that is so much a part of both the Old and New Testaments is cause for celebration. Even if we suffer, because want and desire are rarely satisfied, God is with us. God (Emmanuel!) is with us. And if the Grinch tried to steal our toys or if Scrooge tries to ignore the joy all around him by blurting out, “Bah, Humbug,” we can hold on to this one truth of truths, that through it all God is present with us.
My hope and prayer for all of you during these Advent, Christmas and Epiphany seasons is that you won’t have to wait to be ordained to catch on to the true meaning of Christmas. Put Christ back in Christmas, right? He never was not a part of the day and the season that bears his title. Have a Merry Christmas!
The Wardens, Parish Council, staff and associate clergy of St. Paul’s Church join me in wishing everyone a very merry Christmas and a most joyous and prosperous New Year.
Please come out for one of our Christmas celebrations this year. Tell a friend or neighbour about our worship times. If you are traveling please join a worshipping community wherever you happen to be, in giving thanks to God for the gift of Jesus Christ, our kin, our brother, our Saviour. ³