Telling the Nativity story, with help of two foster boys

Night after night, Jesse and Kelly Cone led their children through some of the most familiar verses in all of Christianity.The goal was to use the quiet pre-Christmas season of Advent -- or Nativity Lent in their Eastern Orthodox parish in Santa Maria, Calif. -- to help their young sons grasp the meaning of Feast of the Nativity, which begins Dec. 25th and continues for 12 days. This isn't easy in a culture in which the powers that be roll out the Christmas bandwagon with the Halloween … [Read more...]

Occupy Advent 2012 (Let’s ask Siri)

The first question was simple: "Siri, when is Christmas?"After the two-tone "BEED-EEP" chime, the voice of the Apple iPhone responded: "Christmas is on Tuesday, December 25, 2012. I hope I have the day off."Then matters got complicated: "When is Advent?"Siri searched her memory and said: "I didn't find any events about 'Ed Fant.' "Trying again: "When is the Advent season?"Siri cheerfully responded: "I am not aware of any events about 'advent season.' "After several more "BEED-EEP" … [Read more...]

Celebrate Christmas — gasp! — in Christmas?

Father Dino Bottino didn't expect to spark a firestorm several years ago when he delivered his sermon about the true meaning of Christmas.Still, it didn't take long for outraged parents to leak one crucial statement -- that Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus, isn't real -- to the Italian press. Headline writers around the world immediately felt a great disturbance in the Holiday Force, as if millions of tiny nonsectarian voices had cried out in terror.Clearly, this priest had … [Read more...]

Whatever happened to Advent?

The Rev. Timothy Paul Jones kept hearing one thing when -- four weeks before Christmas -- he brought a wreath and some purple and pink candles into his Southern Baptist church near Tulsa, Okla.And all the people said: "Advent? Don't Catholics do that?"This prickly response wasn't all that unusual, in light of the history of Christmas in America, said Jones, who now teaches leadership and church ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky."In the dominant American, … [Read more...]

Gently fighting for Christmas

Merry Christmas.No, honest, as in "the 12 days of" you know what between Dec. 25 and Jan. 5.If you doubt the accuracy of this statement, you can head over to the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. There you will find an interactive calendar that bravely documents the fact that, according to centuries of Christian tradition, the quiet season called Advent has just ended and the 12-day Christmas season has just begun.So cease stripping the decorations off your tree and … [Read more...]

That Church Calendar Christmas Crunch

In the beginning, there were humble Nativity pageants for the kids and Christmas choir extravaganzas for the grown-ups.As the decades passed, some big Protestant churches began hiring orchestras and buying advertisements, creating a music-ministries arms race that pitted the Baptists against the Pentecostals and the Presbyterians against the Methodists. Some prosperous churches even began moving these performances on stage or outdoors, adding elaborate sets, costumes and lights. But the leaders … [Read more...]


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