Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

On Christmas
Anglicans Online ^ | 12/31`/2006

Posted on 01/01/2007 6:58:32 PM PST by sionnsar


Hallo again to all.

Sad tree.We woke up early on Saint Stephen's Day this year—Boxing Day for much of the world—to fill up our car with gas and to visit distant relatives. In the clear light of the second day of Christmas, one of the things that struck us most was the number of Christmas trees that had already been put out on curbs as garbage. Some had their lights and decorations still attached, but others were picked clean, their adornments stashed away to wait another year. In either case, the poor trees—and the people who tossed them—were being done a sad disservice. They were missing out on the full twelve days of Christmastide, a season dear to us, full of observances and feasts small and large.

Sad tree two and three.The notion that Christmas is really twelve whole days long is not so much about ritual rectitude as about being careful to get all the joy out of a festal season that God has given us. The Real Ultimate Christmastide™ tends to be overlooked because the five or six weeks leading up to it have been dominated by Santa Claus, commercialism, Bing Crosby, tinsel and snowmen. But now Christmas is here, and we write from within it on the cusp of the celebration of one of its greatest feasts—the Feast of the Circumcision, known in most of the sanitized world today as the Feast of the Holy Name, or the Naming and Circumcision of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The first feast day of the year is one we have tended to miss ourselves on account of staying up too late on the night before to be able to get to church on time. It is also one that tends to be overlooked because of its focus on what has been called the most controversial surgical procedure in history. The Circumcision of Christ is elided by Bible-readers and many preachers because it strikes us as culturally inappropriate, strange, unfamiliarly Jewish, or something we just don't want to talk about. (The day probably passes unnoticed on the calendar for most.) It also has an oddly paschal note—the newborn Saviour already shedding blood—within what liturgists will tell us is the natal cycle of feasts along with the Annunciation, Presentation and Visitation et al.

The circumcision of Christ.Yet this feast tells us something we need to know: that in the midst of this divine, salvific life—new life, vibrant, joyous—there is humanity, particularity, bleeding and pain. Gentle Jesus meek and mild will tomorrow, as a son of Abraham, become a son of the law through the ritual cutting of his flesh. This was a favourite text for medieval and renaissance preachers, and as the pioneering, facsinating research of Leo Steinberg has shown, it was a common motif in pre-modern and early modern Christian art. It cemented the seriousness, the completeness, the costliness, of God's incarnation as a Jewish boy. It clarified beyond all question that God really was here to be with us in every aspect of our lives as a real human being. John Keble joins the throng of those who look deeply into this feast and find its joy:

Look here, and hold thy peace:

The Giver of all good
Even from the womb takes no release
From suffering, tears, and blood.

If thou wouldst reap in love,
First sow in holy fear:
So life a winter’s morn may prove

To a bright endless year.

There is joy in this hidden season, this hidden feast, for all those who will find it. What's more, there is Good News on this hinge of years tonight that Jesus Christ has come to be the hinge between our humanity and God's divinity. Christmas is not over, and God's love has just begun. Rejoice!

Whether or not any of us make it to church tomorrow on 'a winter's morn', a blessed feast of the circumcision—and a blessed 2007—to all of you from all of us. For the second time in five weeks, Happy New Year.

See you next week.

Our signature
All of us here at Anglicans Online

Last updated: 31 December 2006

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
[Anglicans Online tends to be a bit liberal in orientation, but I thought this worthy of your attention. --sionnsar]
1 posted on 01/01/2007 6:58:33 PM PST by sionnsar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: sionnsar

Thanks for the post.
I was feeling a bit blue now that the holiday is past and the trees are alongside the road. My lights are still up and decorations still out.
So happy to learn the season is not over! I love it so!

2 posted on 01/01/2007 7:10:20 PM PST by jackv (just shakin' my head)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: sionnsar

Happy eighth day of Christmas!

3 posted on 01/01/2007 7:15:44 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: sionnsar
Saint Stephen with a rose, in and out of the garden he goes,
Country garden in the wind and the rain,
Wherever he goes the people all complain.
4 posted on 01/01/2007 7:20:49 PM PST by Thrownatbirth (.....when the sidewalks are safe for the little guy.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Thrownatbirth

The Bird of Dawning

Some say that ever 'gainst the season comes,
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singes all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, or witch hath power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is that time.

William Shakespeare
(Hamlet - Act 1, Scene 1.)

5 posted on 01/01/2007 7:24:50 PM PST by jackv (just shakin' my head)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: jackv; Salvation; Kolokotronis; LibreOuMort
I was feeling a bit blue now that the holiday is past and the trees are alongside the road. My lights are still up and decorations still out.
So happy to learn the season is not over! I love it so

The holiday is far from past, as my FRiend Salvation notes!

Our tree goes up on Christmas Eve (no sooner), the lights are extinguished for the last time on Twelfthnight (Epiphany Eve), and the tree itself comes down on Epiphany.

The season our (American) secular society celebrates as "Christmas" (with all their parties and shopping) fall in our penitential season of Advent. Okay, we do attend their parties and do what shopping we've not already done by then... but we still know it's Advent and not Christmas.

6 posted on 01/01/2007 7:31:08 PM PST by sionnsar (††|Iran Azadi| 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | UN: Useless Na)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: sionnsar

So glad to know this. I wish the rest of society would hold on to it!!
I breaks my heart to see the valentine displays up already!! ugh!

7 posted on 01/01/2007 7:35:50 PM PST by jackv (just shakin' my head)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Aracelis

See post#5.
I have saved this from a year ago when you sent it. It is lovely. Hope you are well!

Happy holidays!!

8 posted on 01/01/2007 7:40:33 PM PST by jackv (just shakin' my head)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: sionnsar

Journey of the Magi

"A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For the journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

-- T. S. Eliot

(The first four lines are quoted from a Christmas sermon by Lancelot Andrewes.)

9 posted on 01/01/2007 7:41:31 PM PST by stripes1776
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Salvation; sionnsar
England, 17th Century
TUNE: Greensleves

The old year now away is fled,
The new year it is en-ter-ed;
Then let us all our sins down tread,
And joyfully all appear.
Let's merry be this day,
And let us run with sport and play,
Hang sorrow, cast care away
God send us a merry new year!

Christ's circumcision this day we keep,
Who for our sins did often weep;
His hands and feet were wounded deep,
His blessed side with a spear;
His head they crowned with thorn,
And at him they did laugh and scorn,
Who saving our souls was born.
God send us a merry new year!

And now with new year's gifts each friend
Unto each other they do send;
God grant we may our lives amend,
That truth may now appear.
Snake-like cast off your skin
Of evil thoughts and wicked sin,
And pure this year begin --
God send us a merry new year!
10 posted on 01/01/2007 8:00:40 PM PST by lightman (The Office of the Keys should be exercised as some ministry needs to be exorcised)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: lightman

Good King Wenceslas : Lyrics
Play Music !

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel

"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither."
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing

11 posted on 01/01/2007 8:25:51 PM PST by Chickensoup (If you don't go to the holy war, the holy war will come to you.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson