Ring the Bells that Still can Ring
When I left St. Simon's Church in Oakville they called me the Priest Who Hated Christmas Trees. A word in my defence. I didn't actually hate them. I just thought they had their proper place ... during the actual season of Christmas and not Advent, which is not yet Christmas. I've since relented. Now, like the rest of the world, I buy my tree any time after Labour Day. I like Christmas trees. I really do. I just needed to get that off my chest.
I used to feel the same way about Christmas lights. Not only did some people hang them on their houses on All Saints' Day. Many of those same people burned them brightly--blinking off and on in the annoying way some lights do--right through to Eastertide. I would shake my head. "What these people don't know ... is a lot!" Now, just like those Christmas trees, I'm not sure anymore that "those people" weren't right all along.
Every Saturday I get the Globe and Mail delivered to my door, even here where I live in Calgary. A neighbour once called it "that socialist rag," which shows you just how far we've come, out here. I get the headlines every day on my iPhone, just to keep up. But on Saturdays I pour myself another cup of coffee, to steel myself, and I sit down for the deep dive.
Some weekends I never come up again. The news is so alarmingly bad. You just feel you're watching a stupendous multi-car pile-up playing out in slow motion right before your eyes. Current regional politics is only the first car in a long line, all getting smooshed. I try turning away, thinking happy thoughts. But I get caught instead by the awfulness of it, as if the headlights were coming next for me.
So maybe we have to get our good news wherever we can find it. And cling to it. Maybe the Good News we preach at Christmas--that God is in our midst in spite of appearances to the contrary--deserves a longer run. In fact, maybe it should never end, not until we've heard its message in our hearts and seen it in evidence in our world. Maybe Christmas lights should remain throughout the whole year, with their little blinking reflections of hope. And okay, that goes for Christmas trees too. (I like Christmas trees.)