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Christmas

A New Year & A Better Immanuel...

A New Year & A Better Immanuel…

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

-Matthew 1:23

Immanuel, God with us, epitomizes the Christmas season and carries certain implications which we could summarize in the following respects: Firstly, God has come near us not to condemn, but rather to be condemned for our sins. We understand this as a fitting contrast to Genesis 3:8 (and they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden…and they hid). As well, we can see in this a foreshadowing of the blessed future state John…

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The Stray Bible of Christmas 1993

The Stray Bible of Christmas 1993

I spent Christmastide of 1993-1994 in a rural village on Shikoku, Japan’s smallest main island. I was 13, impossibly skinny—my brain a language-sponge my Japanese classmates teased me about for being more Japanese than Japanese.

There is almost nothing I forget about that winter vacation: the udon noodles, the persimmons from the trees in the yard, the home-made plum pickles in the cellar, the eleven-faced Buddha we visited on New Year’s Day after climbing 1,368 steps at Konpira-san, grandfather’s war-stories told from the Japanese side, the Shinto amulet on the kitchen wall honoring the war dead at Yasukuni, the smell of…

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The Tree on the Curb

The Tree on the Curb

Few physical objects cause me more sorrow than do discarded Christmas trees. Starting on Christmas Day itself, they begin turning up on the curb. (I saw one in Connecticut already thrown away on Christmas Eve this year.) Some are tossed away still with lights and decorations on them, while others are stripped of their finery before being sent off to weather the elements. They sit for days and weeks without any attention from sanitation crews—collecting snow, soaking up rain, silent in their jealousy of siblings and cousins who have been allowed to stay in cozy living rooms for…

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A Genealogy of Wastrels

A Genealogy of Wastrels

Another great one from the Advent devotional, Watch for the Light. This one was written by Gail Godwin about the precariously long lineage recounted in Matthew’s Gospel, which moves from broken promise to broken promise, and finally ending with the Promised One.

…These three minutes worth of tongue twisting names contain the essential theology of the Old and New Testaments for the whole Church, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant alike.

Now that’s a pretty bold and sweeping ecumenical statement. But Brown tells us Zwingli was already preaching it back during the Reformation. Zwingli preached that Matthew’s genealogy contained the essential theology of…

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It Was Not -- Never Will Be -- A Silent Night

It Was Not — Never Will Be — A Silent Night

Around this time last year, I tried explaining to my mom why I was so exhausted (aside from the obvious child-rearing and work responsibilities). There had been countless weddings that year, bachelorette parties, bachelor parties, girls’ trips, family trips, work trips, and conferences galore. What’s more we live in California – and our people are for the most part on the East – so when we are asked to do anything at all, it almost always requires a cross-country flight.

“It’s not always going to be this way,” I said to my mom, looking for encouragement. “Next year will be different,…

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If Only In My Dreams

If Only In My Dreams

I love Christmas music. I say that fully aware of the considerable aesthetic shortcomings that this love means I must endure, and yet every year as dusk falls upon Thanksgiving Day, I tune in like a character in a Lou Reed song waiting for their man. I find it easy to overlook the saccharine sweetness that under most other circumstances would be a disincentive, to say the absolute least: at no other point in time would I ever even consider sitting through an entire Barry Manilow song. But if it’s “Jingle Bells” with Expose then you bet your duff I’m…

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A Couple Seasonal Calvin and Hobbes


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Yule Is Not About the Virgin Birth

Yule Is Not About the Virgin Birth

‘Tis the season of Yule: a season that has become, for many, filled with nihilistic self-debauchery set to the fraudulent timing of Jesus’s birth.

Yay.

It’s bad enough that we feel powerless amid a cascade of moral, political and cultural ambiguity of the last few years, but this time of year there is a delirious “Party On” wave as well. Whether a Wiccan Yule or a Hipster SantaCon, the Solstice Season doubles these days as a kick-off for our latent human cynicism amid Christmas. Maybe part of all the ennui is the simple truth that Christmas is not really a birthday, it’s…

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I'm Going to Be Nothing: On Giving Up at a Christmas Pageant

I’m Going to Be Nothing: On Giving Up at a Christmas Pageant

When our daughter announced last week that she wanted to be “nothing” in the Christmas Pageant this year, I was like cool, cool. Totally fine. It’s just that you’re already assigned to be one of the angels. And you look like an actual angel. Oh, and your Dad is the minister at the church. But you do you, three year old.

So when the other kids were all, “I’m going to be a sheep! I’m going to be Mary!” our daughter was all, “Imma be nupping.”

This week I struggled with what I should bribe/threaten her with. I told…

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He Knows If You've Been Bad or Good…and Fills Your Stocking Anyway

He Knows If You’ve Been Bad or Good…and Fills Your Stocking Anyway

“Do you think Santa is actually real?”

My six-year-old asked my nine-year-old this question in the backseat of my car recently, and I tried to squelch the “of COURSE he is!” that was dying to escape from my throat.

The nine-year-old, who is the tallest innocent I’ve ever met, said that yes, he believed that Santa is real. The six-year-old had his hang-ups. “What would make you say that he isn’t?” I asked from the driver’s seat, imagining a list of logistical challenges that one man might have distributing gifts around the world.

Instead I got:

“I just can’t believe that he thinks we’re…

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PZ's Podcast: A Disease I Do Not Have the Courage to Name

PZ’s Podcast: A Disease I Do Not Have the Courage to Name

EPISODE 239: A Disease I Do Not Have the Courage to Name

This Christmas cast is about communication between people, and God. Moreover, it’s about the cost of poor communication, which can be suicide, let alone habitual alienation. And the rich advantage of good communication, which can be the difference between life and death, let alone satisfaction and personal happiness.

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Praise the Lord: I Saw the Light (this Advent)

Praise the Lord: I Saw the Light (this Advent)

Its official, men are no longer sure what they can say. Last week an elderly gentleman complimented my outfit and then promptly recanted and apologized. Little did he know that as a 35 year old mother of two zoo animals, I actually appreciate being told I look nice. Nonetheless, I suppose we will all just stand around and not interact. That should take care of everything.

The surprise and outrage are jarring to me. Who finds it surprising that this has happened? That sexual deviancy is rampant? That women, still relatively new to the workplace, have been treated horribly?…

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