Postpone Christmas?

I’ve been a priest of the Episcopal Church for 40 years. Not once in those decades have I missed a Christmas Eve midnight mass. This year, I will.

Portland, Oregon, where I live and work, along with much of the rest of the Pacific Northwest, has been socked in by a week of freezing weather with big snow accumulations. When I read this morning that another, albeit weaker, front was due in on Christmas Eve, I cancelled all services for Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and moved them to the following weekend whose weather is to be rainy and mild.

There is no biblical or theological reason that Christmas has to be on December 25. The early winter choice was made by prelates who wanted to convert some pagans away from their worship of the sun gods just after the winter solstice. There is no historical reason to think that Jesus Christ was born on December 25. The day has become engraved in our minds by tradition and by commercial interest.

What is supremely important to the person of faith is the INCARNATION: the belief that God became flesh. We’re going to worship the God who becomes person when we can. For us, in this place, it’s not going to be December 24 and 25.

It still feels funny. Whatever will I do on Christmas Eve? I will enjoy my home and family and solitude, remembering that calendars and schedules are human inventions to help bring order to our common life.

Maybe we could do with less calendaring and scheduling. More on that another time.


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