Monday, December 26, 2011

On the Feast of Stephen

Among my annoying holiday tricks is the ability to sing "Good King Wenceslas" in its entirety from memory at upredictable times, something I'm doing now --- hopefully you can't hear it. This is, after all, the feast day of St. Stephen, marytr, upon which the good king set forth with flesh and wine, pine log and page, through snow --- deep and crisp  and even --- to feed that poor guy living out there by St. Agnes' fountain.

No snow here, today --- and the  predicted high is 46. A blessed brown Christmas after two years of snow and ice and cold. I'll worry about global warming tomorrow.

Stephen, generally recognized as the first Christian martyr --- stoned to death by the religious establishment of his day (see Acts 6 and 7 for details) --- don't get much respect these days. Every preacher and priest in Christendom, after all, is taking the day after Christmas off.

The photos here are from St. Andrew's, decked out for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I thought it looked rather nice, especially by candlelight on Christmas Eve.

My favorite Christmas story was published here, in yesterday's Register. Albia's Mary Sauter, aka Chrsitmas angel, has over the last 20 years or so spent roughly half a million dollars on gifts for children who otherwise would have been slighted at Christmas. Some children, according to the story, leave the price tags on --- they've never had anything storebought that was new before. The Register story will be accessible for a couple of weeks, then disappear into Register cybervaults.

And here's the finale of a "Home for the Holidays" concert on Dec. 17 by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus Ambassadors at First Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) in Santa Cruz, California. We sang "Silent Night" by candlelight, too, on Dec. 24, although perhaps not this impressively.

I'm always grateful at Christmas and througout the year to be able to enter a church and feel welcome, something not possible when I was younger. So bless the prophetic vision and radical inclusiveness of the Unitarian Universalists, the United Church of Christ, The Episcopal Church and, more recently and increasingly, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Presbyterian Church (USA).

For those who prefer bouncers at the church door, well there are still plenty of Christians out there hurling St. Stephen stones.

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