As I start to write this inaugural Deacon’s Blog post it is the Sunday of Epiphany and I am starting to think about how I will tackle taking down our Christmas decorations. This led me to reflect on how we Christians get a “free pass” to express our faith, the reason for the season, to the world for a good 6 weeks. The secular Christmas season from Thanksgiving Weekend to Christmas day combined with the Church Christmas season from Christmas day to Epiphany gives a very long window of time.
Over 20 years ago I was part of a Transfiguration Church men’s bible study that met on Saturday mornings. One morning during November we were talking about how people were already putting up their Christmas displays. One of the older gentlemen mentioned that the most important part of our displays should be the manger scene. At the time I thought he was a bit off target, but over the years have come to really appreciate his wisdom. If we as Christians do not take the opportunity to show the world what Christmas means to us with a simple yard display we are missing an easy chance to proclaim our faith.
These days the first item to go up in my Christmas display is a simple stable with a manger. That way if the weather gets too bad at least that is done. After Thanksgiving, the manger is populated with Mary, Joseph, a donkey, and a lamb. The manger is left empty to remind people that it is not yet Christmas and build some anticipation for the birth of Jesus. When we return from the Christmas eve Mass I put the baby Jesus in the manger and switch the Santa flag to an Angel flag to proclaim Christmas has arrived. My kids always thought I was odd but now as adults, they still comment on Jesus not being in the manger. Here are before Christmas day and after Christmas day shots of the display. The change is subtle but hopefully catches people's attention.
Many years ago I changed the placement of figures and decorations so that the Holy Family is front and center. One addition I have dreamt about is getting the three Magi figures and have them start traveling from the back of my year, the east, to the stable arriving at the stable on Epiphany weekend. Such are the strange thoughts that go through my mind.
Christmas is indeed a free pass to us to put Jesus front and center, and an opportunity to share the great gift of God’s love for every child of God.
Peace and blessings,