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Christmas Day 2015

Christmas Day 2015

It's 1:07PM.  I'm the cook.  The standing rib roast is in the oven.  The recipe tells me to check on the temperature at 2:30 for medium rare. Let's see if I can provide you with a tasting, if not of roast beef, of our holiday in West Hartford.  All in the hour and twenty some minutes before the writer becomes a cook again. 

Curious thought.  On the way to worship last night for the Christmas Eve service a man of early middle age stood athwart my (and everyone else's) path asking for money for a bus trip home.  Been there, heard that, and in my cynicism concluded that the guy had found a wonderful way to cadge money from people in the glorious haze of Christmas generosity.  Of course, God help me, I could be wrong. In this season of divine mystery, I note that a lot of that has rubbed off on us, the mystery that is.  The other human soul, the one not yours, has its impenetrable depths, motivations even the guy who has them does not know or think about. Yeah, maybe my cadger is one of those in whom Jesus said he would be incarnate, the brother and sister in genuine need.

On the other hand, faith in Jesus does not require that we set aside our intelligence and our suspicions in all circumstances.

That's a mystery too.

While the roast roasts I'm tuned in on TV to the mass at The Basilica of the National Shrine.  Please forgive this invincibly ignorant Protestant but I really am put off by the costumes and the stilted language of those leading the celebration of a baby wrapped in swaddling bands (whatever they are, and they certainly aren't ermine).  I am equally offended by the ritual exaggerations committed by those on my side of the Reformation.  Sometimes it's in the name of getting down and holy, like singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.  Mea culpa.  I've worn a red cap with a white tassel in the pulpit on more occasions that I want to own up to.  And "O Holy Night," the tear-jerker show-stopper: my how I long to hear it sung without vibrato... a longing rarely accommodated.

The aroma of roasting beef wafts into my study.

The presents were opened this morning.  They were gathered beneath the tree, a tree considerably smaller than in previous years when the twins made the choice.  No more toys.  The bichon got her Greenies, but was more interested in the loot Pa was gifted, alluring snacks not only to the master's taste but to the doggy's nose. This afternoon when the feast is done maybe my little white haired friend and constant companion will get one of Rudolph's shins to chew on (which is to say, Elmer's rib).

1:50, a little more than a half hour to go.  I ponder the particularly unsettling theme of this year's Christmas celebrations in church: how they seemed devoid of any consideration of how the faith, joy, hope, and love become a reality in our world.  I mean there was a lot of excitement and feeling, glory and warmth, but few explanations as to why.  I listened for some mention of the cross.  Little was forthcoming from the pulpit.  The carols had to save the day, and they did.  No hesitation there. But the Gospel of a Savior, and why he has to save us, was barely suggested. Probably it's my fault, this sense of something missing.  A friend chided me for thinking the cross had much relevance for Christmas, and said I'd get enough during Lent. I'm not convinced... not with Herod's troops knocking on doors in Palestine and ISIS chopping off heads a few miles to the east. Somebody, and I mean Somebody, needs to save us from ourselves. Maybe God will send us a Son to do it.

Ah, well, the roast is nearly done.  I'll have just enough time to proofread this essay before sending it along to you.


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