EACH year, I attempt to share some thoughts on the season commonly called Christmas.
I know that for many people, regardless of religious affiliation, the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are the Season.
This season has become longer.
Consider that many commercial establishments have long had Christmas trees up, and wreaths with bows and artificial snow placed here and there.
For children, it may be a wondrous time, when expectation and hope abound. Santas hear requests of kids for this and that.
In my own memory, a sidewalk Santa asked me, when I was about 5, about my Christmas wishes. I quickly told him that I wanted a red wagon and an Erector Set.
Sure enough, my financially strapped parents produced the funds for these much desired and loved presents.
I know, though, that for many parents, Christmas (as celebrated in our culture) is a time of anxiety. Just to think of trips into places where toys are sold may be daunting to some.
There is often the question of finances. How will I gather up the funds to provide my family with gifts?
On our televisions, we are told that there are many magical cards which can be swiped through a little machine on the sales counter, and nothing will lie ahead but endless payments.
I speak of these things because I and many friends have had these experiences. This was especially true if we were young ministers serving rural congregations.
I now present an alternative to the present celebration of Christmas.
For some Christians, the weeks before Dec. 25 remind us that that the characters in the Biblical stories of the birth of Jesus had similar concerns.
Mary and Joseph were in a precarious situation. Having an infant in the corner of an animal shed is no easy task.
All through the Nativity stories that will be read in some churches from Dec. 24 and onwards, there are stories of terror, narratives of journeys taken in haste, and announcements of heavenly beings of peace on earth.
I am reminded that twinned with the birth narratives is another theme - of the killing of innocent children and the tyranny of rulers.