Make A New (Christmas) Plan, Stan!

This Christmas is different, so much more like that first Christmas of old.  Our cherished longstanding traditions are disrupted with pandemic prejudice, but that does not mean Jesus is not planning to be born anew in the manger of our hearts!  Yes, dear readers, Da-Who-Dor-Rays applies this year!  (A How the Grinch Stole Christmas reference, just near the end!) It will come just the same, without packages, boxes or UPS/Prime/FedEx bags!  We may not get to blow our Ta-Tookers (yep, Grinch again) but Jesus is a’comin just the same.  So this Christmas will be more intimate, more domestic, more about home and hearth, table and tree, than previous years.  So…what’s your Nativity plan?  We need a Yule strategery here, and in this special bonus devotional, I want to provide some provocative, diverse options for you as we all make a new plan, Stan!  Here goes….

 

  1. The Great Conjunction/Maybe Bethlehem Star Nightgazing!  Why wait until 2080 or 2400 to see it when it happens just after sunset tomorrow night, Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year?!!  Ursid meteors plus the Jupiter-Saturn Great Conjunction?!  2020, why not then?!  Dress up warm and enjoy the prophetic view just above the horizon to the southwest, but don’t blink as it won’t last long!  For more details please see here.
  2. Lights, Spirit, Lights!  Why drive all the way to Denver to see those Botanical Garden lights when we can drive all the way to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and pay to shiver for the same holiday treat?!  Must purchase advance tickets for entry upon the hour, masked and distanced, but for those in Vail or nearby we present the Magic of Lights Vail half-mile LED light-a-rama!  Honestly, could we perhaps find a less dorky-title, but don’t let the odd nomenclature put you off!  Frank W. Griswold could not hang more lights on more ecologically sensitive winter plants than have the good people at the Vail Valley Foundation, and it is a pretty cool option to stroll with a warm beverage in hand.  Please see the details here.
  3. Beloved Christmas Cinematic/Animation/Children-Turned-Into-Adults-But-Still-Enjoy-Movies-We-Loved-As-Children Marathoning!  It’s a good year to break out those beloved holiday classics, now more easily available on the video platform of your choice.  It’s A Wonderful Life transforms even the most avid viewer upon learning that Jimmy Stewart has just returned from distinguished flying service in World War II to film his first-post war feature.  Folks, George Bailey’s moving prayer and tears on the bridge are completely real and unscripted as Stewart filmed that scene in one take and broke down afterwards.  The final banquet scene from White Christmas?  Sir Patrick Stewart’s Ebenezer Scrooge maniacally learning to laugh as he awakes in Hallmark’s 1999 A Christmas Carol?  The poignant Catholic Mass led by the Scottish Catholic chaplain in the middle of no-man’s land in Christian Carion’s courageous 2005 Joyeux Noel?  Reciting every line with Boris Karloff’s epic narration of the original (and best) The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?  Hanging out with Rudolph on the Island of Misfit toys?  Burgermeister Meisterburger?  Or, a personal favorite, watching Alan Rickman’s breakout portrayal of devious Hans Gruber in Diehard make his over-dramatic multi-story fall to usher in the festive holiday?!  Sappy family fare like Little House Christmas?  John-Boy driving through snow to make it home to the Walton’s for Christmas?  I won’t tell if you don’t!
  4. Deprogramming/Intervention for Marathon Hallmark Channel 365 Days of Ridiculous Christmas Holiday Pablum.  Yes, dear readers, help is available.  You need not suffer in silence any longer.  Please call me for more information.  Yes, yes, there there.  I know the pain.
  5. A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge.  For me this grand presentation has become an essential feature of my Christmas Eve morning.  The Godfather of every other holiday Lessons and Carols Christmas worship in the English-speaking world, this Anglican musical juggernaut began in 1918 and has continued, excepting 1930, every year since.  The Lessons and Carols format, delivered in the restrained British accent every Anglican Christian instantly recognizes, is a treasure trove of music, text and prayers interwoven.  I regard the Bidding Prayer on pages 6 and 7 of this year’s bulletin, especially the acknowledgement of souls atop page 7, as one of the finest summaries of Christian theology ever presented in liturgical worship.  So…for the BBC livestream please see here.  If your computer cannot do that, please try the Minnesota Public Radio American option here.  They list their broadcast at 9:00 AM Central Time on Christmas Eve, and they also have the bulletin embedded in this same link a bit below the top.  For purists please download your bulletin in advance here.
  6. Other Christmas Worship with the Big Boys and Girls.  Beyond our own ECOT livestreamed worship, it is so easy to worship with larger congregations this year.  Check out our own Bishop Lucas and our own diocesan Pageant, or the Washington National Cathedral worship, or perhaps Saint Peter’s in Rome or Canterbury Cathedral or anywhere new and different for you.  Search, link and enjoy!
  7. NORAD’S SantaTracker.  A proud Colorado tradition from our mountain Air Force center outside Colorado Springs marking its 65th year, now with a slick website and even well-produced video.  Love that saluting Santa at the end!  Follow Santa’s global journey here!
  8. Reading Scripture Out Loud on Christmas Day.  A reading of Luke’s Nativity narrative on Christmas Eve and Day is completely appropriate any year but perhaps this year is the best time.
  9. Screen/Media Fast for the 12 Days of Christmas.  Given everything I’ve said above, perhaps we take a break from all entertainment media this Christmastide?
  10. Enjoy this holiday!!!!  2020 has been so challenging for so many.  I pray the deepest, greatest joy be with you this Christmas season no matter your plan.

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