West Union United Methodist Church
Thursday, January 20, 2022
Luke 10:27

Pastor's Corner


Stirrings of the Waters*

(thoughts, observations, hopes, and/or movements of the Spirit)

Merry Christmas to you and a holy Epiphany! As I’ve written in the past, I look for any reason to celebrate, so I’m up for each of the twelve days of Christmas. I’m not packing away my Johnny Mathis Christmas music just yet. (I’m not certain whether he had an Epiphany record. If he did, I’d get it.) In a recent sermon I suggested that perhaps why we start celebrating Christmas so early – and almost make Advent moot – is that we need Good News as quickly and as often as we can find it. Auntie Mame was right, I think: “…Yes, we need a little Christmas, this very minute . . . need a little Christmas now.”

In my reading, I discovered Dr. Earl Count had written about Christmas traditions as an Episcopalian priest and professor:

Christmas is a spontaneous drama of the common folk, a prayer, a hymn. All the while that Raphael was painting the Sistine Madonna, Frenchmen building the cathedral of Chartres, English bishops composing the Book of Common Prayer, Handel his Messiah, Bach his B-Minor Mass, the common people, out of whom these geniuses sprang, were composing Christmas.i

I once heard that every endeavor that has changed the world has come from the common people, and Dr. Count appears to bear me out in this example. Dr. Bruce Forbes, professor emeritus of our Morningside College, summarizes, “…He (Dr. Count) views customs of the cultural Christmas . . . as gifts the masses bring to the manger of the Christ child.”ii Christmas creep, blazing light displays, endless Christmas music, the mélange of Hallmark channel holiday movies, ubiquitous gift-giving and party-throwing and card-sending, are the “common folk” calling attention to the birth of Jesus spontaneously and joyously. Like gold, frankincense, and myrrh were offered by the Magi, we present our celebrations as a gift to Jesus.

Don’t be in a hurry to dismiss the echoes of angels singing. Allow the joy and blessings of the season to abide. Live with them. Dwell with them. And welcome the Light of the World!

Grace and peace,

iEarl Count, 4000 Years of Christmas


iiBruce Forbes, Christmas, A Candid History


* Refers to John 5:2-9, especially verse 4, concerning the pool at Bethesda within which, according to legend, when the water was stirred by an angel one might enter and be healed.