In an effort to write more, I am going to try something a little different and occasionally post collections of brief thoughts gathered in something approaching a theme, instead of waiting until the inspiration for some thousand word topic strikes. With Christmas upon us, I have a few small ideas that seemed worth writing down.

Compare the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and how they differ in their telling of the first Christmas. Luke describes the angels appearing to the shepherds outside Bethlehem, while Matthew recounts how the wise men from the east came to pay Him homage. But Luke doesn’t even mention the wise men, nor does Matthew mention the shepherds. Isn’t it interesting two men with the same faith and same topic had completely different ideas of what was important to the story?

In every church I have attended, it is customary on Easter to say “Happy Easter, He is risen!” But we don’t have a similar way to modify “Merry Christmas” to acknowledge we’re saying something deeper than a standard holiday greeting. I suggest we start saying “Merry Christmas, He is here!” After all that is what we are celebrating, the arrival of a Savior.

I think the thing I’ve missed most about Christmas over the past few years is caroling. Growing up, my family would always join our church to go caroling at a local nursing home, usually on a Sunday afternoon. A large group of us would cover every wing of the home from the retirement community to the late-stage dementia ward, with a pastor in a Santa hat leading the way. It was always something that defined the season for me as a child, and since COVID continues to make such events verboten, I find I miss it.

However, sharing of hospitality continues to be a central part of the season. So far I’ve been a guest in 3 different homes not counting my family’s this holiday season, with another party expected on New Year’s Eve. After a tumultuous 2020 and 2021, being festive with friends is very welcome indeed.

One thing I’ve always found to be off about how we celebrate Christmas is how much time and effort (and stress and money) is dedicated to making it “perfect”. Sometimes I wonder who decided what a “perfect” Christmas is anyway…

I see that I missed the annual sole broadcast of A Charlie Brown Christmas, which was aired on PBS on December 19th. Fortunately we have the DVD. One can’t help but feel a touch cynical at the fact that while the misadventures of Clark Griswold and Hallmark’s formulaic rom-coms run 24/7 from Thanksgiving to New Years, Charlie Brown and his adult counterpart George Bailey must be deliberately sought out. Surely it couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that Charles Shultz and Frank Capra believed there was more to the most wonderful time of the year than buying 25,000 Christmas lights and meeting the man of your dreams?

Then again, the true meaning of Christmas has always been prone to being lost in the shuffle. After all, the true meaning of Christmas came to earth in an ignored province of the Roman Empire. Like the eye of a hurricane, the manger stands in the center while the consumerist storm whirls about it, and the occupant waits for those who will listen.