The tale “The Christmas Guest,” as told by Johnny Cash on his album Christmas with Johnny Cash, is a fable about an old man, Conrad, who receives a message from an angel that the Lord will appear to him on Christmas Eve. Conrad readies his place, expectant for Jesus to knock at his door. But throughout the night, Jesus doesn’t appear as expected.
Christian communities around the world celebrate Christmas, yet each culture has its own traditions. Here, Anabaptist brothers and sisters from different regions share how they celebrate Christmas.
What are the significant stories in this issue? When I asked this question in the office, the answer came back: “They’re all significant.” This, our Christmas issue, is chock-full of stories to pay attention to—with our prayers and actions.
Two international stories stand out—some good news and some heart-breaking news.
“Are you ready for Christmas?”
The question came from Ed, a cheerful clerk at Save-On-Foods, as I was picking up some milk.
What kind of response was he seeking? Was he asking if I had I finished all my Christmas shopping? If so, the answer would be, yes, mostly, meager though my efforts are.
“Good King Wenceslas” is not the most sing-able of carols and the lyrics are on the King James end of archaic. You may have assumed this 10th-century legend is about the spirit of the Yule and putting a penny in the old man’s hat. Let’s look again. See what you think of the conversion of his servant, the Page.
Christmas in Sicily (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)
At Christmas time families journey to meet other family members. There is a Christmas tree up in the corner, and some twinkly lights afloat somewhere. Somewhere in the corner there is someone like me, wincing to the sound of so-called Christmas “music” (cough ... noise!), and a grandma or maybe grandpa has just pulled out something warm and baked from the oven. And, most likely, somewhere in a prominent position, on your mantle or even your lawn, you’ve set out the nativity scene.
I still think of myself as a shepherd. Every day, actually every night, I’m out there. I look for the lost, the wanderers and the weary, and I bring them home. It’s a living. At times, it’s easy; they know the way and I just help them along. Other times, it’s dark and cold, and I worry about predators in the shadows. My lost ones might—or might not—be in good shape.
Did you know that Thursday, November 27 was American Thanksgiving? You might not, since this holiday seems to have faded into the shadows of the sinister Black Friday—which is today.
I don’t really understand the history of Black Friday, and I’m too scared to google it, but as far as I know, it’s a day that celebrates excessive greed. Unfortunately, it’s made its way up to Canada, and everywhere I look I am bombarded with Black Friday blowout information. It makes me sad, especially since a part of me wants to partake in it so badly.
It was hard to know this Christmas how to hear the familiar story. Every year I look forward to advent, to hearing about Mary and Joseph and the new baby, to reflect again on what this story means for me and my community -- and how I live my life differently because of it.
During our trip to Canada for the Christmas break, I was surprised how many times I heard the same story. It goes something like this: They are trying to get us not to say "Merry Christmas" and to say "Happy Holidays" instead because someone might get offended. If they are offended by Christmas, they can go back to their own country. After all, if we were in their country, we would have to follow their traditions.