Saturday, December 22, 2007

Is Christmas About to End or Begin?

We’ve almost arrived at December 25. Will that be the end of Christmas or the beginning for you?

For most North Americans December 25 will mark the end of Christmas. Most of us began encountering Christmas decorations and Christmas “sales” before Halloween. In recent days one can’t drive near a mall or post office without encountering traffic jams with last minute shoppers and shippers trying to take care of the mission of getting and giving gifts.

For most December 25 will be a welcomed conclusion to a commercialized and pressurized Christmas.

For some December 25 will be the beginning of Christmas. For centuries the church celebrated Advent for four weeks preceding Christmas. This was/is a celebration of anticipating the birth of Christ. December 25 then marked the beginning of the 12 Days of Christmas (remember the song?) that would conclude on January 6, Epiphany.

Epiphany is the climax of the Advent/Christmas Season. The word means “to make known” or “to reveal”. Though the day also began to commemorate the arrival of the wise men to worship the Christ child, Epiphany was the day to look ahead to the mission of the Church, the “revealing” of Christ to the world.

Traditionally Protestant churches focus on the mission of making Christ known from Epiphany until Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent and the celebration of Easter.

This year Meadowbrook Church, where I serve, will be experiencing this ancient path of celebration, worship and mission. Although I spend a lot of time considering ways to make the Gospel of Christ make sense to a contemporary world, I’m looking forward to walking an ancient path across the coming weeks.

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