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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Story... or Two...

Yes, the Feast is almost here... and the absurdity of modern man is on full display.

We here in the West are celebrating a Feast we hardly understand... and doing so in the worst way possible.

For those of you who are not aware, the United Kingdom is a 'theocracy' where the Church of England is the official religion of the land.  And, while the CoE is busy debating female bishops, young adults under their spiritual care are busy debating whether Santa Claus is mentioned in one of the Four Gospels.

Methinks they need to stop nattering about the elimination of of vestments and cassocks and worry more about the elimination of basic knowledge from the average Church of England 'member.'  Well, maybe getting rid of vestments would be a good idea for some, just like keeping firearms out of the hands of unsupervised children is a really good idea.

Well, at least they match... what am I saying?

Great Britain is not alone.  Basic knowledge of Christianity is dying everywhere in the West.  So, Christmas becomes more about Santa and less about the Incarnation.  Of course, avoiding His birth makes it easier to drink and eat and party, because the implication of the Son of God's birth is one that many find unsettling.  He is real, and He is here.  The barriers between God and man have been torn down, and we are left naked before Him.  No more excuses.

Notice that atheists are OK with the celebrating, so long as the celebration itself is meaningless.  But, you see, a true celebration always has a meaning to it.  Without meaning, a party loses much of its flavor.  It just becomes excess.  Yes, sometimes we can have a party just because we have not had one in a long time, but many of us think that the folks who 'go out' every night are shallow.  'Clubbing' becomes a meaningless activity without some meaning.

Actually, it does have meaning: we are lonely.  This is why Christmas is often so painful.  When we remove God from it, it becomes another event where we try to overcome our loneliness and alienation by enforcing 'mandatory fun.'  We host and participate in obligatory events, often with people we don't like or are unwilling to be reconciled with, and the annual event becomes a giant nuisance.

Well, that was my experience of secularized Christmas, and still is as I gaze on from a distance.  I find most of it empty.  Occasionally, the reality peeks through: I serve a funeral yesterday, and as I drove through the cemetery, I noticed how many graves have Christmas decorations around them.  They make sense there, because the mourners have hope, and that hope comes from Christ.  Without Him, decorating a grave is meaningless.

We who enjoy the blessings of recovery have a lot to be thankful for.  After all, the way to sobriety comes through God's healing, and that healing comes from our union with the Son made flesh.  His Divinity and Humanity are brought together in a single Person, and through Him we are brought into the light that warms and restores.  He not only forgives, but He recreates us to be more than we have ever been before, better than we could ever be on our own.

And, He begins this when we are utterly broken down and wretched.  When we are foul and disgusting, He reaches into our world, and then becomes one of us.  He gives up His glory to be inglorious.  He obscures His splendor, so that we could bear His presence.

This is the real story, and it is the one everyone needs to hear.  We need to know that the Son not only shares His humanity with us, but also His Sonship, because in sharing one He shares both.  This is our hope, and it is a hope that we experience as reality when we walk those Steps and become who we are supposed to be.

That is what Christmas is all about.

Then, there's the drunk 'Santa' and 'Elf' in Poland.  I bet you never heard of a man in a snow sleigh getting a DUI.  

NB: some of you may think I am holding certain people up for ridicule in this blog.  I am actually holding up all humanity, including myself, to ridicule.  Yes, I have selected some people and incidents up as the 'Apotheosis of Absurdity,' but it is with the recognition that we are all absurd.  Addiction itself is absurd, but even more so are our attempts to deny that we are not absurd.

We are ridiculous, and we need to remember that.  Even with the finest vestments and perfect theology, are are foolish.  That's because we are still fallen so long as we draw breath.  Of course, what we must also do is never actually aspire to be ridiculous, or 'celebrate' stupidity.  We all need to look at the silliness of others and remember how someone else out there looks at us and sees us as outrageous.

The greatest glory we can have is humility.

And, if you ask my family and friends, you will find out (if you have not already) that I myself have none.

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