Dec. 29, 2019
One of the major benefits of the Christmas season is that it gives a person the opportunity to reflect on the real meaning of Christmas—i.e., the birthday of Christ and Christianity. Of course, we all know that having the opportunity to do something meaningful doesn’t necessarily result in that actually happening. It is also possible that, as I have gotten older, I just might have gotten just a little bit wiser—or luckier? No matter what the reason, but certainly due to a very complicated series of real life events, I found myself sitting (I can’t stand up for any length of time or even long enough to sing a Christmas Hymn) in a little office reception area turned into a place for a ‘not-so-United-anymore’ Methodist Church service complete with—a Christmas tree, altar, pulpit, piano and pianist, choir, advent candles, an American flag, a dedicated-to-helping-the-needy Pastor and a small but very willing-to-help congregation—this dark and rainy Christmas Eve.
These last four Sundays before Christmas day have marked the season of ‘Advent’-which, quite literally, means the ‘time before the coming’. In some churches (including ours), the four Sundays are noted by the lighting in sequence, of four advent candles which signify Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. The fifth candle is lighted on Christmas day to signify ‘Christ’s arrival’ whose message is based entirely on his belief that those four elements should define our world. Let’s forget for a minute that ‘Christianity’ is now considered to be a religion and consider my suggestion that it really should be ‘a way of life’. I consider myself fortunate to know many folks who live that life and never, or seldom, darken a church door. I’ve written many times that ‘religion’ sometimes seems to cause more ‘conflict’ than it does ‘good’. And, religious organizations suffer from the same corruption in their management over time that plagues our political parties and most of the worlds’ governments today. While religions, political parties and governments may become corrupt, the basic message that Christ brought at Christmas has not changed. The corruption of Christmas from a simple message of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace to a world class commercial event is the result of the ‘listeners to Christ’s message’ just not paying attention. Christmas and the Holiday Recess both provide the time, significance, and opportunity to reflect on what life is, or should really be, all about.
Our Pastor, during the Christmas Eve service, cited and recited ‘The Christmas Prayer’ as written by Robert Louis Stevenson who also wrote ‘Treasure Island’, ‘Kidnapped’, ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ and ‘A Child’s Garden of Verse’—which goes as follows:
Loving Father, help us remember the birth of Jesus that we may share in the song
of angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise-men.
Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with
every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry
with clean hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children and the Christmas evening
bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Stevenson’s little prayer may seem a bit simplistic but I thought that it provided a good summary
of the real Christmas message. (Underlines mine)
By the time our little service ended, I couldn’t help but realize the disparity between the world as proscribed in the advent prayers, Christmas-as it was supposed to mean, and the real world just outside the doors of our little office reception area ‘cum chapel’. Hope, Joy, Love, and Peace don’t seem to stand a chance in today’s world!
When I get in a disparaging mood I ‘go and talk to my horse’. So, armed with a back-pocket full of baby carrots, still with their green Christmas top-hats on, I headed for the corral along-side the barn. Hubris was waiting for me, anticipating some kind of holiday treat. I climbed the pipe-fenced corral and seated myself on the top rail. Hubris gave a holiday treat-expecting whiney and I pulled out the first carrot. I thought for a minute while Hubris was chomping on the carrot, then asked, “Hubris, where do we go from here?” Hubris, as usual, continued to chomp on the carrot until it was gone, top hat and all, and then he said, “Recess and reflect. Think about it.” I gave Hubris another carrot and sat silently on the corral rail while he chomped on it.
Hubris is one smart horse! It took me a few minutes to figure out the meaning of what he said.
I had to conclude that he wasn’t talking about the world’s problem of forgetting the meaning of Christ’s teachings, he was telling me what he thought the democrats should do about the impeachment process. They were lucky in the Holiday Recess timing and now they had the opportunity to reflect on the entire impeachment situation, get their ‘ducks in order’, and develop a strategy to set the impeachment trial on a fair and just course. I have written repeatedly that I thought Speaker Pelosi let the drafting of the Documents of Impeachment be rushed and, as they stand now, provide a dangerously narrow and limited cause for a trial verdict of ‘guilty’. The list of witnesses and documents that Trump was allowed to withhold from the impeachment hearings is now well known. The best hope the democrats have now is that there will be time enough for the courts to rule in favor of allowing both blocked witnesses and documents be included in the Senate trial. We will find out sooner or later whether the courts and Chief Justice John Roberts have the will and conscience to allow that. This is the time, and the appropriate season, for them to recess—and reflect. Let’s hope—and pray.
Copyright, December 27, 2019, Louis J. Christen