On my post from yesterday, fellow Methodist blogger Sally Coleman asked the question ‘What do we do?’ about rescuing the Christmas story from the border of cuteness and sentimentality. It’s an important question and it haunts me because by the time the Nativity Plays and Carol Services (two sacred cows I am not willing to touch) come out, everyone is ready for the peace and joy that we generally associate with the season. It is hard to draw us back in to remind us, as the BBC’s version of the Nativity did so well, that at the heart of the story was a pregnant teenager who may have been called a whore and that the shepherds were on the fringes of society trying to make hard decisions.
I picked up a book today called A Not-So-Silent Night by Verlyn D. Verbrugge, who is trying to get us to look at the darker side of Christmas and remember it’s connection to Good Friday. As this has been on my mind this week, I bought it and read the introduction this evening. He starts out by relating the story of writing Advent devotions for a 365 day bible. In it he tried to write them with a darker meditation, but the editors asked him to change them because no one wants that sort of thing in their Christmas devotions. Verbrugge concluded that this may not be the best time or place to explore those themes.
My first thought was, ‘Well, when is?’ And then I began to think about it seriously. Perhaps we need a better time to think through Christmas when the themes aren’t so tied to what is going on in the month of December. Maybe ditching the lectionary in the summer months and returning to these themes then. Or would they lose their shock value if they couldn’t be confronted with the counter-cultural call?
So, are there any better suggestions on when and how we might give back the stories of Christmas their original power and context?