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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Contextual Christmas

I did something last week I've never done before in my entire life - I put Christmas lights on a palm tree! Even though this is our second Christmas in Florida, (last year we decorated a traditional inside evergreen tree) I'm reminded daily, as I go about in short sleeves and sandals that my experience of Christmas has shifted. In our Christmas Eve worship last year we sang one of my favorite carols, "In the Bleak Mid Winter," then on Christmas Day lounged by a sunny pool. Instead of chestnuts roasting by an open fire and treetops glistening in the snow, bodies tan on a sandy beach and sunshine sparkles in the waves. As my late bother-in-law Jimmy used to say, "That just ain't right!"
It's all a vivid reminder that life is contextual. We all have our own experiences, perspectives, beliefs, customs, and traditions. 

However, the Christmas story is also a reminder of our shared experiences as part of one human family. In the stories of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus we remember that life will continue in spite of difficult circumstances.  The shepherds call to mind human curiosity and amazement. The Magi stir our sense of wonder, exploration, and adventure. Angels coming, going, and proclaiming tell of the mystery of Eternal Presence sometimes quietly hidden and other times bursting forth in startling ways.

So wherever this Christmas may find you, and whatever kind of symbol you raise, remember The Story is an Eternal Story of human determination, wonder, adventure, mystery, and above all love with us.

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