Saturday, December 16, 2006

Remember me?

Howdy, folks! A few concerned neighbors have been shouting down the “mind shaft” and tossing a few rocks into the darkness to see if anyone is still down here. Yep, I’ve been out of my mind for the better part of a month and haven’t posted for awhile. Before somebody gets creative and tosses down a stick of “Dynie-mite” on my head, I thought I should holler up that “I’m back!”

The Missus (She who must be obeyed) and I have been off celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. Ain’t that sweet? But of course it’s much more than just a sentimental experience. Important events like birthdays and milestone anniversaries should be celebrated. I’ve never understood why some puritanical religious groups consider it “more spiritual” not to celebrate such events, or even important religious observations such as the Nativity of Christ.

Every year at about this time, the various Christian internet forums are abuzz with the chat of deeply-concerned people insisting that true believers should not celebrate Christmas because of all it’s supposedly “pagan accretions”. They point out that December 25th is not the actual date of Christ’s birth (as if the Church fathers who chose that date to preempt a pagan winter holiday weren’t already aware of that!), that the “Christmas tree” is of pagan origin (I thought God was the Creator of trees. If the Christians took the evergreen tree as a symbol of eternal life away from the pagans and gave it a new and fuller Christian meaning, this is a bad thing? I guess even God is powerless to redeem His own creation), and let us not forget that images of “Santa Claus” encourage the veneration of “dead saints” (Isn’t that an oxymoron? If you are a saint, you are eternally alive in Christ and one with the undivided Church in heaven and on earth). In the rigid thinking of such folks, all of these “pagan influences” cannot possibly be redeemed by the power of God or incorporated into a truly Christian celebration.

I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or wind my watch when I hear such things. Some religious sects do indeed condemn the celebration of all birthdays and anniversaries on the strained logic that such events place too much attention on the humans involved and thus supposedly detract from the worship of God. God is a jealous God you know, and apparently gets huffy when someone else receives any attention.

What utter nonsense! When my wife and I recently celebrated our 30th anniversary, we were both acutely aware that the whole thing was made possible entirely by the grace of God. It was God who brought us two kids together and made us “one flesh” to pursue our mutual salvation in Christ. It is God who gave us the grace to face the many challenges of life and deepen our love and commitment to each other over the years. The celebration of 30 years together was very much a celebration of God’s grace and mercy toward us. God is glorified in His saints! This must be what people forget when they object to such “human celebrations”.

When people focus on the so-called pagan influences in today’s Christmas celebrations to claim that these “pollute” the holiday and make it an offense to God akin to Israel worshipping Baal, I have to wonder if they haven’t forgotten the grace of God themselves. Are we to believe that a Church-selected date and a few incidental symbols adopted to teach the true meaning of Christ’s birth to a pagan culture completely overshadow the Church’s celebration of the Incarnation of the Son of God and render it an abomination to God? Have these “true believers” forgotten that through His incarnation, the Son of God joined the entire material creation to Himself, making possible the redemption of all? The world is no longer divided into the “clean” and the “unclean” as it was in Old Testament times, but now all things have the possibility of redemption through the incarnation and of showing forth the glory of God as they were originally created to do.

The god of the “true believers” is too small, too petty, and too powerless. He apparently has no ability to take back even something as small as a Christmas tree from the clutches of the pagans and make it into a new symbol of eternal life in Christ. No wonder he feels insecure when people celebrate even such things as wedding anniversaries.

The God whose incarnation the rest of us celebrate at the Feast of the Nativity of Christ is a mighty God indeed, and the Savior and Redeemer of the whole world! He is so powerful that He has even granted to His Church the authority “to loose and to bind” upon the earth. So the Church has used Her authority wisely to loose the date of December 25th and the evergreen tree from the darkness and ignorance of the pagans and bind these to Herself as newly-illumined symbols of Her glorious victory in Christ. Of course, the “true believers” can’t even accept that such a Church still exists upon the earth as a sign of God’s eternal and all-powerful presence. Their god is so powerless that he let that slip away to the pagans too.

I don’t feel like laughing, and my watch is digital and doesn’t need winding. So I believe I will shed a tear for so many “believers” today who have forgotten the power of God, the promise of Christ that “the gates of hell would not prevail” against His Church, and the incredible glory brought into all creation by the incarnation of the Son of God.

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

8 Comments:

At 12/16/2006 3:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

All things are reconciled to Christ, not all things submit to Christ though.

Congratulations on thirty years Fr. Eremitike, may you have thirty years more and then some....

 
At 12/17/2006 10:50 PM , Anonymous Trenna said...

Yay, you're back!!! I am glad.

 
At 12/18/2006 5:01 AM , Anonymous Bruce said...

Loved this. Not as good as this past Sunday's homily though......

 
At 12/18/2006 7:45 AM , Anonymous trenna said...

Bruce I must concur!!

 
At 12/18/2006 8:25 AM , Blogger Seraphim said...

Fr., well written. I've never understood the aversion to the Christmas tree. Esp. in light of the Saint Boniface story of where we got the Christmas tree.

I've recently discovered your blog and like how you think.

I'shalom

Seraphim

 
At 12/18/2006 11:12 AM , Blogger Mimi said...

Father, bless,

Happy Anniversary to you and your Matushka.

 
At 12/29/2006 3:38 PM , Anonymous handmaid leah said...

Amen!

 
At 12/30/2006 8:55 AM , Blogger Petros said...

Like I've always heard, "'Me and my Bible' always ends up meaning 'Me.'"
They've tossed out the Church. Can't they at least accept Mistletoe? Sorry Father, gotta go... I'm late for my "Quiet time".

 

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