An Incarnational Christmas

footprints_snow.jpg “Incarnational” is of course that other word for missional, and the theory behind it. So as I was considering this idea, it occured to me that Christmas is perhaps the chief holiday for missional folk — after all, it’s all about the inauguration of the incarnation of Christ, the sending of the Son by the Father to trod the sod of this earth, as it were.

This got me to wondering, if Christmas is a missional season, what would a missional/incarnational Christmas look like? If we want to walk as Jesus did and engage people missionally, what would that path look like specifically over the holiday season? I know how some churches do this with big programs, but if we’re specifically considering a missional expression of Christmas…. how does one incarnate the celebration of the incarnation?

Just wondering….

Rather Annyoyed: Over $200 for a Christmas Gift

no-right-turn.jpg Okay, the gift itself wasn’t that much, unless you add in the $190 traffic ticket… about which I’m exceptionally annoyed. We dropped by the MTS Center in Winnipeg today to pick up tickets to “Disney on Ice” for the kids for Christmas. Arrrgh. In this day and age, can anyone explain why they can sell tickets for all kinds of events online — even airline flights — over the phone, or at any one of a hundred remote outlets around the city (or country!), but if you want tickets for Disney on Ice, noooo, you have to come right downtown to the box office at the event venue and get them there. Noplace else will do, they won’t sell them that way. I’m miffed at them first. So we make a special trip downtown and my wife runs in while I circle the block twice. By “circle the block” of course I mean a 6-block radius given the negotiation of one-way streets in the area. At the second revolution when my wife gets back in the car, I follow the vehicle in front of me, turning right from Portage Avenue onto Donald Street to head back toward home.

Christmas Reading List

girl_reading.jpg The Christmas season has become the beginning of my “reading year.” Over the Christmas holiday, I try to find, make, or steal time to do some reading — usually fiction, often something on the lighter side. Not always though: sometimes a well-written easy-reading nonfiction book does the trick just fine. This practice forces me to take time away from the computer and break the normal patterns of daily life at a time when there’s a lot of additional activities and festivities going on, so a little extra disruption can be a good thing as well. The mental break is a fantastic exercise as well, and a good rest for me. It also renews a reading-habit, and if I am able to build up a little “reading-momentum,” I tend to blast through a few titles during January as well.

HoMY 82: Hark the Herald Angels Sing

charliebrownchristmas.jpg This year during Advent, I’m taking an uncharacteristic “Advent break” for the Sunday posts in my series Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth. During my youth, my church did not observe Advent or much else on the church calendar… so we inserted Christmas carols into the hymn selections in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Typically we would start with only one carol on Sunday morning, adding more as Christmas got closer. This week’s selection is “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” written by Charles Wes­ley in 1739. Wikipedia has a good intro to the carol, which explains that the carol was written by Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley and first appeared in “Hymns and Sacred Poems” in 1739. The original opening couplet was “Hark! how all the welkin rings / Glory to the King of Kings”, while the version commonly known today is the result of alterations by various hands, most notably George Whitefield, Wesley’s co-worker, who changed the opening couplet to the one we know today.

HoMY 81: O Little Town of Bethlehem

bethlehem.jpg Today is the first Sunday of Advent for 2008, and we mark the first day of a new year in the liturgical calendar. Last year during this season, I added to my series Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth by drawing in the Advent-themed hymns that fit into my Advent blogging program. This year I don’t have a formal blogging program planned for Advent, so I’ll be adding Christmas carols to the list. The church I grew up in did not mark Advent or observe the liturgical calendar at all, so there were simply Christmas carols for the weeks leading up to Christmas. This week’s entry was written by Phillips Brooks in 1867. There are alternate tunes for the carol, but the original and probably most familiar is the one by Lewis Redner, who was Brooks’ organist at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The tune came to him on Christmas Eve, and was first sung the next day.

A Book by its Cover: God With Us

godwithus.cover.jpg God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas (Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe, Editors) is a handsome volume that fell into my hands yesterday. Featuring contributions from Scott Cairns, Emilie Griffin, Richard John Neuhaus, Kathleen Norris, Eugene Peterson, and Luci Shaw, the book is an “invitation to live the church year” by walking daily through the first three seasons of the calendar (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany). Various authors and poets offer daily reflections which are printed on heavier-than average gloss paper alongside various works of art in full colour. Interspersed among the reflections are a set of histories of the feast days by Beth Bevis.

Approaching Advent: A Season of Darkness?

candle-dark.jpg With Advent just over a week away now, Advent resources are beginning to appear online, including Christine Sine’s New Advent Meditation and planned synchroblogs. I organized a synchroblog last year for Advent, and have collected all the post links for reference as well. I’ve also begun to reread some of my past posts for the season, like Bethlehem and Mixing metaphors, and Kicking your way to the Light. There are also collections of Advent resources appearing online as well.

I’m starting to think on these themes just a little, as the SBT Book of Hours project is getting underway. Oddly enough, Lent was subscribed pretty quickly, with Christmas and Advent falling behind. I didn’t have any particular leaning and offered to fill in where necessary, so drew Vespers during the Christmas season as a result. There’s still an opening left under Advent, so I’m considering that too.

Advent: Resisting Christmas

adventwreath.jpg Last year I wrote a piece for Next-Wave on the theme of Advent. We talked a lot about Advent themes last year as I completed my book, That You Might Believe: Praying Advent with the Gospel of John. I’m not sure yet if there are any synchroblogs planned for Advent this year, but I thought I would start taking up the topic a little eary so it doesn’t catch me off-guard like it so often does. Usually the season sneaks up on me before I know it, but this year I’m trying to think ahead. Unless you’re celebrating by the Celtic calendar, of course. In this vein, I thought I’d reprint last year’s Next-Wave article.