November and December bring us to what is often called the holiday season. Probably no time receives more attention than Thanksgiving and Christmas. Both are firmly rooted in American’s faith tradition, although both are celebrated beyond people of faith.
Thanksgiving may be the purer of the two, in so far as it has not been commercialized except as the kickoff of the Christmas shopping season. Thanksgiving still ties to the many blessings that the early Europeans experienced in the early years of their landing in the Americas. The focus is on thanks giving to God for surviving the trip, a harsh winter and, finally, a bountiful harvest.
Interestingly enough, given the evolving history of European settlers and native residents, an important focus of their thankfulness centered on the first human residents of this wild land who showed them how to have a bountiful harvest in a foreign land. These native peoples welcomed these white refugees who came ill prepared for the rigors of living in an untamed land.
Thanksgiving continues to remember the humble beginnings of what became America. It remembers our dependence on God during difficult times and plentiful times. It reminds us that we have always been a blend of cultures and that we succeed best when we live and work with those different from ourselves. We are strongest when our various strengths are shared.
Unlike Thanksgiving, Christmas (the older and more important celebration) has had difficulty maintaining its meaning roots, even while becoming more universally celebrated. Rather than remembering the humble roots of Jesus’ birth, the celebration of Christmas has become an engagement in excess. Marketing and creating yearly profit often defines its purpose and success.
Yet for all who cling to the simple story of Christmas, the message still endures in the clamor of the holiday excess. Its story, like Thanksgiving, speaks of thankfulness and inclusiveness.
A couple of common folk are forced by political forces to travel through the winter while the young mother is pregnant. While far from home and with no place to seek shelter, she delivers a baby in the dirty barn of an inn. Despite the hardship they thank God for this birth that is to bless us all. Workers of the fields (who could not get Christmas off) came to the manger bidden by angels. In time, elite scholars (with nothing better to do than follow stars) also showed up to celebrate this king who would be like no other king. So the son of God is born, savior of the lowly and the elite. Both go on bended knee before the king born in a manger attended by cows and goats.
Mingo and Farrar both have special events along with regular worship to enfold our spirits with the blessings of Christmas. Don’t miss the children’s programs. Christmas is a story about a child that has always been best told by children. Come as children yourself caught in the wonder of the story about God coming as a baby born in a barn.
Take refuge with us. Escape the clamor of the market place. Be at peace in God’s g e gentle presence and be thankful.
-Rev. Dana Wimmer
Click here to read of the November/December Newsletter!