Merry Christmas!

Today the Bountiful impoverished Himself for our sake;

So, rich one, invite the poor to your table.

Today we receive a Gift for which we did not ask;

So let us give alms to those who implore and beg us.

This present Day cast open the heavenly doors to our prayers;

Let us open our door to those who ask our forgiveness.

Today the DIVINE BEING took upon Himself the seal of our humanity,

In order for humanity to be decorated by the Seal of DIVINITY.

from Nativity Sermon of St. Isaac the Syrian

Christmas Lights

Christmas Decorations in Window

I always love the Christmas season, for a variety of reasons. At Christmas time, those who usually scorn tradition embrace it. Those who lampoon old "churchey" music, listen to the classics. Those who want nothing of liturgy or formality yearn for it. Those who only pray extemporaneous prayers avail themselves of classic Christmas Prayers. I know that growing up Christmas had a magic that no other time of the year had, a magic that I wanted all year-long. Then I found the church year! At my first Easter vigil as an Episcopalian, I remember remarking, "it feels like Christmas!"

Also, we Catholics (and Orthodox and Anglicans) can take heart: Christmas is a season! Christmas lasts (in the current Catholic calendar) until January 8th (the Sunday after Epiphany). Traditionally, Christmas celebrations continue until the Epiphany. From Christmas until Epiphany makes 12 Days…thus the 12 Days of Christmas. Technically, Christmas begins on December 25th, despite the fact that for most Americans the feast ends after the afternoon gorging on Christmas Day. I am not putting down those who do not celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas, just gently reminding everyone that Christmas need not end on December 25th. So while everybody else is experiencing the post-Christmas blahs, your celebration has just begun. This is especially important for me this year. I have been very busy lately, and am just now settling into the holiday season. I have included a few Christmas photos from my recent family gathering, and a Christmas lights trip. While I know they are secular photos, I still think they capture a little bit of the magic of Christmas.

Finally, this holiday I have discovered some excellent holiday (Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany) tunes including, "I Sing a Song of Bethlehem," "God That Madest Earth and Heaven," "Once in Royal David’s City," and "Bring a Torch Jeanette, Isabella," all from the wonderful CD 50 Most Loved Christmas Carols. I include the lyrics to "I Sing a Song of Bethlehem" below. The tune is "kingsfold" which some may remember is the tune for the song "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say."

O sing a song of Bethlehem, of shepherds watching there,
And of the news that came to them from angels in the air.
The light that shone on Bethlehem fills all the world today;
Of Jesus’ birth and peace on earth the angels sing alway.

O sing a song of Nazareth, of sunny days of joy;
O sing of fragrant flowers’ breath, and of the sinless Boy.
For now the flowers of Nazareth in every heart may grow;
Now spreads the fame of His dear Name on all the winds that blow.

O sing a song of Galilee, of lake and woods and hill,
Of Him Who walked upon the sea and bade the waves be still.
For though like waves on Galilee, dark seas of trouble roll,
When faith has heard the Master’s Word, falls peace upon the soul.

O sing a song of Calvary, its glory and dismay,
Of Him who hung upon the tree, and took our sins away.
For He who died on Calvary is risen from the grave,
And Christ, our Lord, by heaven adored, is mighty now to save.

From Cyber Hymnal

Ambient Christmas Room