My Christmas Pageant Moment

This post was originally published on the Episcopal Café web site on January 21, 2010, and has been reprinted in my church bulletin for several Christmases. When I wrote it, my kids were much smaller, Christmas Eve more challenging as we aimed to do all the important things—prepare food, pick up those last few groceries—while shepherding three [Read More…]

Hope is the Hard and Necessary Work of Advent

Practicing Advent hope in the face of hopelessness is the fundamental—sometimes hardest—work God has given us to do. We are tempted to either rush through the disquieting ambivalence of Advent to get to clear-eyed Christmas joy, or dismiss it all as a foolish fairy tale belied by the world’s harsh realities. [Read more…]

Is There a Right Way to Celebrate Christmas?

Christmas. It’s such a mixed bag, isn’t it? I’m an unapologetic lover of all things Christmas. I love choosing just the right gifts for my kids, stacking bins of homemade cookies on the back porch, and driving around to see light displays—the more garish and over-the-top, the better. For the past few years, including this [Read More…]

Let’s Stop Bashing These Christmas Traditions

I’m all for trashing traditions that give us only glitz, gluttony, and maxed-out credit cards. But many of the traditions that get a bad rap, including these five, remain cherished by our family each year. [Read more…]

How Much is Too Much for Holiday Giving to Kids?

Three perspectives on why holiday gifts and giving traditions need to be thoughtful, meaningful, and tweaked in a way that makes sense for the particular blend of personalities and histories that make up our unique families. [Read more…]

All Good Things (& Christmas Trees) Come to An End

The sight of a Christmas tree strapped onto a car roof awakens all kinds of anticipation for me; at this time of year, even the mind-numbing routine of driving my kids around is made delightful by the sight of lighted trees and electric candles in people’s windows, and strings of lights adorning outdoor trees and [Read More…]

On Doing Advent Wrong (or Maybe, Just Right)

Christmas is about the material illuminating the immaterial, about intangible spiritual truths being revealed through tangible physical things. God doesn’t reveal the love and grace at the heart of the universe by beaming deep thoughts into our brains. God reveals love and grace through a newborn baby. There is nothing “spiritual” about a baby; babies are all flesh and need. Similarly, our Christmas traditions communicate what we know about God’s love and grace through stuff that we can see and smell and touch and taste, stuff that speaks to our own flesh and need. [Read more…]

Christmas Lasts for Twelve Days, Not One

As I wrote last year, I mourn the commercialization and hype of Christmas less than I mourn its lopsided timeframe. Our culture treats December 25th as a culmination and grand finale, rather than as the beginning of a 12-day holiday. My heart breaks on the 26th when I see Christmas trees on the curb, can [Read More…]


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