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Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

I am an Episcopalian because for me, the Incarnation is the point.

The Incarnation took center stage in Anglican theology pretty early and has never really left it. It is the Anglican specialty, the doctrine we emphasize above all others, the key that unlocks the code, the tonic of the great symphony that is the Christian worldview. God became a human being; he didn’t just *pretend* to be one, he didn’t disguise himself as a mortal the way, for example, the Greek gods sometimes did, he really became one, a particular person, a boy his parents called Jesus. He got hungry and thirsty, sweaty and tired. He needed to sleep and eat and move his bowels. And he enjoyed real pleasures, too, which we know because a lot of people disapproved of how he went to wild parties and ate and drank with prostitutes and Vichy tax collectors and even, possibly, Gentiles.

God became a human being. The Word became flesh, as John’s Gospel puts it. The Logos, the divine principle of order and meaning, the Logic of the universe, became flesh, a historical, contingent, finite person, a mind wedded to matter.  Theologians hammered out that the Divine Person did not merely inhabit a human physical shell, but had a human mind, a human soul, a human selfhood. The Word whose speaking created all things limited itself to one human language, with perhaps a smattering of a couple others; to what a peasant in a Roman-occupied country in the early days of the Roman Empire could know about mathematics, geography, science, history, and all the provinces of human knowledge. The Word that tells us our stories became a character in *our* story, became a story that we tell. Divinity, meaning, truth, love are embodied eternally in human experience and in the world of matter.

If this sounds like the most important idea in the world to you, then you just might be an Anglican. (Sorry, Mr. Foxworthy. Everybody knows I’m stealing your shtick, here.) For me, the Incarnation makes sense of everything else in Christian theology. If Jesus is not both really, genuinely, completely human, no fooling, and really, truly, genuinely GOD, then his teachings don’t much matter, and even his death and resurrection don’t much matter.

I’m aware that most of Christian theology has counted the Resurrection as the single most important act of God in Jesus, and that most theologians have worked on the assumption that the Incarnation was necessitated by human sinfulness. The Son of God had to atone for our sinfulness, he had to die to do so, therefore he had to become human, therefore Christmas (and a brief period of rejoicing before we start talking about SIN and THE CROSS).

But at least since I was a teenager, I have read that the other way around. God wanted to make humans partners in divinity, therefore he had to become human, therefore he had to be born, therefore he would also have to die, but human beings screwed things up, so he had to die the hard way. The Incarnation was always Plan A because the taking of humankind into the Godhead was always Plan A. For all of us. For the entire human race. Therefore we have repentance and change our lives because we made God’s work and our eventual divinization  A HELL OF A LOT HARDER than it needed to be, but even during Lent and Holy Week we rejoice because God’s passionate unconditional love considers us worth the trouble.

And that’s why I’m an Episcopalian.

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  • I will not complain about Christmas decorations in public places.
  • I will not put up my decorations until I’m ready.
  • I will not complain about Christmas decorations in public places.
  • I will not listen to Christmas music at home until I’m ready.
  • I will not complain about Christmas decorations in public places.
  • I’m not even tempted to criticize people for how they phrase their good wishes for the season.
  • I will not complain about Christmas decorations in public places.
  • I reserve the right to scream if I hear the Theresa Brewer covers of any Christmas tunes, especially “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree”.
  • I will not complain about Christmas decorations in public places.

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Winter Solstice. Alban Arthuan. Yule. Mothernights. Christmas. Dies Natalist Solis Invicti.

The shortest day and the longest night. The moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator at a particular point. For three days, the sun rises and sets at the same point on the horizon, at its southernmost position: Sol-stitia. It will do so again at the summer solstice in its northernmost position. Following the solstice, the days will get longer, the sun will rise and set more northerly, and the weather will get colder and more vicious even as the light lengthens, until Imbolc comes and it is officially spring.

A lot of things are going on at this season of the year. All of them are caused by a bit of a wobble in the earth’s rotation combined with the endless dance of its revolution. It is a wonderful thing to contemplate.

May we all have food, song, warmth, and fellowship this season. May we remember and reach out to those who are lacking. May our gods bless us. May we go forth into a good new year.

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It actually looks like winter hereabouts, for a change–a rare and heavy December snowfall from last weekend still covers much of the city, and temperatures have been just above freezing all week.

Right now I’m engaging in the first of my Christmas Eve traditions: Listening to the service of Nine Lessons & Carols from King’s College, Cambridge, on public radio.  They’re singing the lovely Harold Darke setting of Christina Rossetti’s poem “In the bleak midwinter” and have just launched into a rousing accompanied version of “Personent Hodie”–I think this is the setting by Gustav Holst.

At this time of year, nothing beats the English carol tradition for me.  English devotion to the Virgin and celebration of the Incarnation, expressed in song, epitomize Advent and Christmas for me, from the marvelous medieval texts celebrating the Blessed Virgin to the twentieth-century settings of them from British composers.  I can listen to carols with the classic descants by David Willcocks over and over and never complain, never wish for anything different (even if I can no longer sing those descants without, er, straining myself).

Tonight, another tradition: Midnight Mass at the church where my husband is the organist.  The choir will be performing a Mozart Mass accompanied by organ and strings, along with a musical prelude.  It will be well after one in the morning before we get home and settle into bed, intoxicated with musical ecstasy.  Fortunately, we won’t be awakened by small eager children at oh-god-hundred; there are advantages to having one’s offspring grow up and do their own Christmas shopping.  *g*

And now, we’re off to enact another personal Christmas tradition: Shopping for wrapping supplies so we can wrap gifts at the last minute.  Happy Christmas, everyone!

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To a practicing Christian, especially on the more Catholic end of the spectrum, Christmas as it is now celebrated doesn’t look very religious; it celebrates human greed and anxiety rather than divine and human generosity, and frantically tries to drive away the silence and darkness that are Nature’s gifts this time of year.

To a non-Christian person, however, Christmas doesn’t look very secular; Jews, Muslims, atheists don’t feel the tree, the lights, and the secular songs belong to them any more than the Christ Child, the shepherds, or the wise men.  To make it worse, fundamentalist Christians insist that Christmas is under attack, that evil pagans or secularists are trying to wipe away the Christian nature of the holiday, a contention which seems self-evidently wrong to a non-Christian.

Peace on earth? good will to men?  I will be praying for it.

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… in a magical working for the Winter Solstice.

This effort comes from writer and mage Jason Augustus Newcomb, author of The New Hermetics and 21st Century Mage.  I have studied and worked with Jason for five years and owe a lot of my direction on the Path to his books and his mentoring.  Please consider carrying out the following working between Monday, the Solstice proper, and Christmas Day:

Creating a Universal Solar-Hermetic Egregore

This Solstice, I want your help in creating a giant battery of magical power, love, wisdom, peace, prosperity and strength. I want to create a universal egregore that magically links all participants with a huge source of communal magical strength and vitality for the coming year.

The solstice is traditionally a time for solar rebirth, and this year I want to birth a Solar-Hermetic “Sunchild” with the help of magicians all over the world all working together in love to create something beautiful in unity. If we all work together we could have hundreds or even thousands of people contributing energy to a huge magical battery that will only become more powerful each time it is used.

The “Sunchild” is an androgynous godling that will contain the collective love, wisdom and power of every participant. The power of the egregore will constantly expand as contributors will become more powerful as they become harmonized with the forces invoked, so that the power within the egregore will constantly grow. This will also coincide with the solar force increasing in the coming year.

The working will be extremely simple and fairly short to conduct (about 20 minutes), and yet highly powerful as well as healing to the world. There will be no particular temple set up, and no tools needed. I have created a guided audio recording that will completely direct you through the simple inner magical procedure.

Click here to download this free recording:

http://jasonaugustusnewcomb.com/store/initsec.html

All you need to do is face the setting sun right as it is descending below the horizon on the day of the Solstice, or any day after that up until Christmas, then play the recording and follow along as you give and receive various magical energies to birth the “Sunchild.”

Please participate in this, and spread the word to help get magick users and esotericists all over the world to participate. Tell everyone in your lodges, covens, meetup groups, your massage therapists, reiki practitioners, everyone who might like to have a battery of loving power this year. Everyone is welcome, and everyone’s contribution will add more power and beauty to the “Sunchild.” I want to see hundreds or even thousands of people participating in this united working. I want us to create a truly Universal Solar-Hermetic Egregore that any and every esoteric practitioner can give to and draw upon.

If you cannot participate at sunset on the Solstice itself, please participate at sunset in the days following. There will be a constant rolling creation as people all over the planet send their energy up at their unique sunsets. This is a big revolutionary spell that circles the globe with the sunset for several days, involving hundreds or perhaps even thousands of magic users. Let’s make an amazing egregore of Love, Beauty and Power together.

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… this morning I spotted it on a Loreena McKennitt Christmas CD.

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