Thoughts for the Season

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 9:30pm

Anybody got a camel I can borrow?

Producer: No? How about a donkey? No? Well, then at least a flock of baa-ing sheep?

Director: Hmmmm … looks like we are going to have to keep the Christmas Pageant simple!

Producer: Simple swhimple! Simple doesn’t sell! People want spitting camels, and braying donkeys, and baa-ing sheep, and door-slamming innkeepers, and celestial fireworks…

Director: Sure they do, but underneath all of that entertainment is a desire for the simple things of life… children… and love… and God’s presence… and warm memories… and hope for tomorrow.

Producer: I was going with glitz and distraction…

Director: Just go back to the basics: God loved us enough to send Jesus. And Jesus came as a vulnerable little baby, casting his lot with humans that we might be saved from ourselves and celebrate life, life with God, family and friends. 

Producer: OK. OK. I can go with simple and basic and essential, but, but I am not compromising on the cake and ice cream! Those are definites!!

Director: Fair enough. The simple Christmas story is in. Cake is in. Ice cream is in. And I’m in!

Are you in? You and your whole family are invited to the Christmas Eve (well, afternoon, actually) Service at the Harbor Church at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 24.  Then at 4:30 we will blow out the candles on Jesus’ birthday cake and celebrate His birth among us!  — The Harbor Church

Our Father

Dear Island Friends and Visitors:

Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy 2018! May you and all family members be blessed with the Peace that passes all understanding! 

We pray: 

“Our Father, who art in heaven...” In doing so we recognize a most deep, familial relationship of God’s parenthood to us, His sons and daughters. We admit His origin in eternity and in time, not only “in heaven” but in everywhere and everyone.

“Hallowed be thy name...” Not that we give God permission to be “hallowed,” but that we make God hallowed in our lives. We become holy in having and welcoming Holiness Itself into our bodies, minds, and souls. 

“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven...” Jesus taught that the Kingdom is already here and in us. We need only to accept it for ourselves as the reality and make it work in us as our way of life in fact and in practice. Then is God’s will being done here and now, this space, this place in which we are and move and have our being! 

“Give us this day our daily bread... ” Not to inform God of our needs, but to inform ourselves in the knowledge that we depend totally on God for all we need in everything we are. It is in knowing that even a piece of bread comes from God that we stop pretending that we are god. 

“And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us... ” It sounds unfair to place ourselves in a position to be forgiven based on to what degree we forgive others! Jesus comes to the rescue. He teaches that God forgives without counting the number of times that we need forgiveness. Forgiving others is possible because we allow God to do the forgiving. If we are playing god, then we will never measure up to the fatherliness of the Father. 

“And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil...” Let us not lead ourselves into temptation. Let us not deliver ourselves into evil. God is not the problem. We are. We plead with the Father to awaken in us a mind to see the good and the courage to do the good. Evil and temptation are not on par with God. We cannot fail when we call on the God who saves us. 

The “Our Father” is the Christmas prayer par excellence! Jesus taught in His Incarnate flesh. Amen. — Father Joe Protano, St. Andrew Church

Christmas Meditation

A friend of mine who was serving as the Stewardship officer of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina was fond of saying, “Keep the main thing the main thing.” His focus was on the health of the institutional church, financial and otherwise. However, the saying has application to the Christmas season. 

The main thing about Christmas is that God chose to intervene in human affairs to provide for us a way to live in relationship with him and to provide a path to eternal life. We celebrate the birth of our Savior to remind ourselves of God’s provision for our eternal needs. He chose the method of sending Jesus in human form to fulfill his purposes. So, I urge you to “keep the main thing the main thing” this Christmas even as you enjoy family and presents and all the things we do to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Merry Christmas! — Father Dan Barker, St. Ann’s-by-the-Sea