Tuesday, December 19, 2006
What is RamaHanuKwanzMas? (Taken from Wikipedia). It is a portmanteau of the religious holidays Ramadan, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas. It was coined by Glenn Beck on his radio program as the name of the ultimate politically-correct winter holiday.
RamaHanuKwanzMas has its own song set to the tune of Holly Jolly Christmas. The idea of combining winter holidays precedes Beck's show, but has gained momentum, as shown in a recent Virgin Mobile commercial (Chrismahanukwanzakah) and on The O.C. (Chrismukkah).
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
In this season leading up to Christmas though the lectionary (more correctly the church calendar) can teach people who have moved away from these things from on high a thing or two.
- Christmas does not start the day after Thanksgiving (or worse after Halloween). Instead the weeks after Christmas are a time of preparation (called Advent) where we prepare our hearts to celebrate the great miracle of God "coming to dwell in the neighborhood" as Eugene Peterson puts it. So, when we rush to make sure we sing songs and celebrate Christmas so early what we are really doing is accommodating to culture. If I had it my way we would only sing Charles Wesley's "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus" until Christmas Eve :)
- Likewise, we do well to do as the Lectionary and Church Calendar reminds us to do and that is recognize that there are twelve days of Christmas culminating in the arrival of thewisemen called "Epiphany". Instead of adding to the stress and culture of consumerism during the time preceding December 25th perhaps it can be a learning moment for churches to cancel all "Christmas" events until the season of Christmas. If you do that I promise you will send some blue hairs and narcissistic baby boomers over the edge.
Well, as we move from what used to work to what works today we do well not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Tradition, symbol, and liturgy still have power today if they are explained and serve to bring people closer to Jesus Christ. Picking up on what one Jewish Rabbi once said, "The lectionary and church calendar were made for man, not man for the church calendar and lectionary." Nonetheless, we can still learn something from them.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
By human nature we all tend to sit in the same seat in places we go on a regular basis. This is true whether it be a church or a classroom or a bar. We kind of claim our space. The problem comes when someone sits in "our" seat.
The problem is especially acute in the church. When a regular attendee makes a comment that someone is sitting in "their" seat they show a genuine lack of hospitality. Do we think a guest will return if they are treated in this way? Is this how we would treat someone in our homes? We might stop to think that we might be cooperating with the enemy as we sin and miss an opportunity to practice hospitality like Christ. What if that person you told to get up and move is attending worship for the first time ever or for the first time in a long time. They are already nervous, apprehensive, on edge and scared and here you tell them "you're sitting in my seat." C'mon think McFly!!
In the church no seat is your seat even if your name is on the plaque at the end of a pew for donating it. Are you willing to give up your seat so someone can become connected with God?
Jesus was willing to give up his seat to do so. That's what we celebrate at Chrsitmas. Jesus gave up his seat and came and lived among us so that we could experiecne God's love both in this life and in the life to come.