Merry Christmas to all those readers who have already celebrated it according to the Gregorian calendar, and happy preparations to those who are going to do that on January 7th!
It would be interesting to hear all the different stories of those of IBTS to learn how Christmas is or will be celebrated in their corner of the world this year. …Or not celebrated! – there are also those who try to avoid Christmas as much as they can (certainly understandable from the theological point of view)… Anyhow, this would be a very interesting collection, surely.
I had one of the best Christmas this year. Back at my hometown, Klaipeda (Lithuania), it’s the Christmas Eve which is the high point of the whole season. Following Lithuanian Catholic traditions, everybody is expected to spend most of the evening (and into Christmas day) around the family table. Too bad if you don’t have one (family, that is).
Instead, we gathered in our (Baptist) church around the table as a statement that this is where real family gathering should happen for those who take Jesus’ words about ‘these being my brothers and sisters’ seriously enough. The pews were rearranged and in the middle of the church there was a long table, furnished with beautiful candles, a plate with bread, a cup of wine, and dark-blue present boxes for all the participants of the dinner.
‘Gift’ was the main motiff and we simply contemplated, in brief reflections and songs, on various words related to it – ‘hope,’ ‘secret,’ ‘surprise,’ ‘miracle,’ ‘forgiveness.’ But we started by sharing bread – dark rich Lithuanian bread, seven slices, recalling seven loaves with which Jesus fed the people in Decapolis. We could have had it with a few small fishes as in the story (perhaps next time?), but instead, at the closure of the evening, a cup of sweet wine was shared to affirm the hope of the heavenly banquet.
Even without fish, that evening provided for me a perfect ballance of celebration and ‘homey’ sense of the occasion.
Hopefully, Christmas Eve/Christmas day is/will be a good occasion for you as well; but even if that is not the case, the good news is, Christmas does not have to be the high point of the year. As long as other days are about sharing life, and light, and thoughts, and food, and whatever else may be required; as long as they point to the gift of the Resurrection.