CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. What is the meaning of Christmas? The age old question brought to prominence by Charlie Brown and Linus in 1965 is one that many still ponder today. Asking a hundred people may result in a hundred different responses, and Pastor Leigh Pezet of Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer shared his own take.
Christmas is sort of the message to us that were not alone, said Pezet Were not all alone in the middle of this vastness. Theres something else with us. And this something else in the Christian church we look upon as the source of all goodness and the source of all truth and beauty and righteousness.
Pezet compared Christians to the title character in the book Robin Crusoe, who wanders an island believing he is alone, until he sees footprints. Christmas is Gods footprint, he said.
What has happened, of course, is that Christmas was hijacked and it was turned into a big commercial enterprise of things and stuff and buying and selling, said Pezet. What is lost is the spiritual dimension of it. What is lost is the fact that this is a time when we believe there was an in-breaking of the divine into the realm of our world in a very special way.
Despite lamenting the loss of Christmas to commercialism, Pezet is still encouraged by those who join his church, in what Pezet calls, counter-cultural activities. While many celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas beginning on Dec. 14 and counting down to Christmas Day, Pezets church begins on Christmas Day and ends on Jan. 6.
The culture begins celebrating Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. The trees go up, the music, its unbelievable. By the time Christmas comes youre sick of it, said Pezet. The culture rushes into Christmas then rushes out of Christmas.
For Pezet and his churchgoers, the time before Christmas, or the Advent, is meant as a period of preparation. In the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, Pezet lights a candle on the Advent Wreath.
The first candle is lit the first week, the first and second candles are lit the second week, and so on until all four are lit on the last Sunday before Christmas. What is so neat about our tradition is that when it gets darker and darker and darker, what do we do? We light more and more candles, said Pezet.
In spite of the fact that we dont have peace yet, in spite of the fact that still dont have goodwill overflowing around the world, in spite of all of those things, we keep celebrating this. We keep celebrating. We dont give up, we doggedly, we steadfastly adhere to this promise, even though it hasnt been fulfilled yet.
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