Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Why is This Season Different from All Others?

by   |  12.19.17  |  Students

            Why is This Season Different from All Others?

If you’ve ever found yourself thinking that you may have too many holiday traditions, and that sometimes it feels like every day of December has to contain some holiday movie, treat, or experience, I invite you to come spend a week with my family. Our holiday traditions make a high-church liturgy feel as free-flowing as a Quaker meeting. Growing up, we had specific ways of opening gifts, specific meals we would eat on specific days, and specific Christmassy beverages we would drink while watching specific movies. In fact, it feels like almost everything we did during the month of December centered around some sort of tradition. From the way we decorated the house, to the songs we would sing, to the foods we would eat, to the games we would play. Does this sound at all familiar?

Attempting to remember every tradition would be exhausting, and frankly looking at them in a list may make them seem a little overbearing. Why did everything we did have to be so specific? Was there no room for newness, freshness, or even just ‘letting things happen’? Did we really have to structure everything so closely? Certainly not, as my siblings and I have come to realize as we’ve each grown up and moved away from home. We’ve enjoyed the Christmas season perfectly wonderfully without sticking to each of our family’s traditions by the letter, as we’ve learned to celebrate Christmas in different places and with different people. However, at the same time we’ve learned to appreciate our Christmas traditions in an entirely new way. I know I have.

Childers family

The Childers Family

For my family, the weather turning chilly and the days growing longer always meant something. It meant buying a Christmas tree together, and playing hide-and-seek with only the tree-lights on. It meant drinking hot cocoa and watching the How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the 1966 animated one, of course). It meant searching for that perfect gift for someone, and learning how to adopt the spirit of giving over and against that of receiving. It meant baking cookies together and playing cards and eating Chinese take-out. And though in a sense each of these traditions is fairly peripheral to the nativity story that forms the center of the Christmas season, but I’ve begun to realize that they were more than fun family experiences. They were in fact vehicles for our experience of the story of Christ’s birth each year.

Not because we can’t celebrate Christ’s birth without a Christmas tree, or because How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a deeply spiritual message (although, of course, it is), but because each of these things reminds us that this time of year is somehow different from other times of year. This time of year we eat different foods, sing different songs, wear different clothes, and think in different ways, reminding us that in a manger in Bethlehem just a few long years ago, the world was turned upside down. Something different happened. God entered the world as a helpless child, and the world can never be the same. More »

ACU Graduate Chapel Sermon (Ben Fike): January 20

by   |  03.17.10  |  Students

Every Wednesday, we meet for worship together in the Chapel on the Hill. Sometimes students speak. Here is a sermon by one of them, Ben Fike, who is the preacher for the Maryneal, Texas Church of Christ. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Matthew 2:1-12 – Laying our Gifts Before the King

by Ben Fike

“The church has just entered the liturgical season of Epiphany one week ago today. The Feast of Epiphany in the Western tradition is associated with this story of the wise men coming to Jesus, the first gentiles who come to worship the child king. Today we join our sisters and brothers the world over in our hearing and proclaiming of this text in this season.

I can’t read this story without thinking of my mom’s collection of nativity sets. She probably just took them down a week or two ago, but during Christmas they’re all over the house. Just little miniature versions of the birth of Christ spread out all over every bookshelf and table. The raggedy looking shepherds, the docile ox and lamb, the surprisingly calm and serene looking Mary and Joseph, little baby Jesus, no crying he makes, asleep in the manger. Blonde, and looking quite Scandanavian. And of course the wise men, all exotic and strange with enormous headgear and camels and robes and big bushy beards, bearing gifts.

But although this popularized version of the nativity may fly some places, we know better don’t we? We know better than that naive conflation of Matthew and Luke’s gospels bringing together Shepherds and Wise Men and Livestock in an ad hoc, irresponsible kind of way. We know better, that this story of the wise men bowing down to Jesus is not serene and precious and cute. It is, in fact, subversive to the point that it will directly contribute to a vengeful and maniacal king massacring thousands of innocents to squelch the perceived threat of the child born King of the Jews these wise men have come to worship. And we know better homiletically than to cast ourselves as the distant floating observers looking down on the tiny scene as if Jesus were a insect and we were a bear.

No, WE know better than that. This is a story we must enter. This story is in someway our story. More »