Thinking Out Loud

December 24, 2010

When the Camera Zooms in a Little Closer, Christmas is Messy

Today at the CNN Belief Blog, Shaine Claiborne and Common Prayer co-editor Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove take a few minutes to rethink Christmas.   As with other things Shane has written, this should make you sufficiently uncomfortable!! The beginning of the article is here, click through at the end to finish reading, or simply link there now.

It’s not all that strange this time of year to see Christians outside in bathrobes, trying to keep a little baby warm in the straw of a cattle trough. (Truth be told, it’s usually a doll; but we get a real donkey from time to time.)

We Christians like to re-enact the birth of Jesus and hear the angels sing again, “Peace on earth, good will toward men.” This is our good news. It feels good when our neighbors pause to listen.

But we rarely tell the whole story. The baby in a manger is cute. The shepherds in their field are quaint. The magi from the east give the whole scene some dignity.

But most of our churches are “seeker sensitive” when it comes to retelling the Christmas story. Our kids don’t dress up like the undocumented workers who do shepherds’ work today. We often fail to mention that Mary was an unwed mother. When we re-create the manger scene, we don’t reproduce the odor. We like to clean the whole thing up a bit. It makes it easier to go home and enjoy Christmas dinner.

As much as both of us love a good meal with our families, we’re pretty sure Jesus didn’t come to initiate a sentimental pause in holiday consumption. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” John’s gospel says. Jesus moved into the neighborhood, and it wasn’t necessarily good for property values.

Christmas reminds us how Jesus interrupts the world as it is to reveal the world as it ought to be. When we pay attention to the story, it exposes our desperate need for a better way. This always makes some people mad…

…continue reading



On a personal note, I want to wish T.O.L. regular readers a Christmas season rich in the depth of meaning of God’s gift of love.     I also want to thank the hundred or so of you who have clicked through to watch our little Christmas song.   It’s not the finest recording job, but I hope the song speaks to some people about what Christmas is all about.

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