A Christmas Recipe For All Seasons

photo-9Ah, Christmas cookies. The final taste of sweetness before Christmas goes to bed for another year.

Whether leaving a plate for Santa or stealing the last crumb for yourself, it’s hard to beat a freshly baked Christmas cookie.

A cookie is sweet perfection for just a moment. It’s a glorious moment, but it’s merely a moment.

Before you know it, the flavor is gone. The joy you experienced is temporary. It’s hollow. It’s just a morsel of something greater.

Christmas has a way of being like this. The holiday season is a sweet moment. Everything in the world seems right and perfect. But often it’s just a moment. Some years it seems there’s nothing lasting about Christmas that leaves a mark on us. Continue reading

The One Wise Way To Stay Merry At Christmas

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Could you be merry around Ernest?

Imagine having to deal with all your Christmas woes – buying the presents, wrapping the presents, balancing all the parties, balancing your budget, watching your weight, putting up with your family – and then having to deal with a neighbor like Ernest P. Worrell. Continue reading

A Christmas Prayer From Henri Nouwen

I’ve done plenty of talking to you about Christmas this month. How about some wisdom from a far greater mind, that of author Henri Nouwen?

Henri Nouwen lived an incredible life of ministry in the 20th Century and wrote many powerful books. The Road To Daybreak is a journal of his first year living in the L’Arche community, a shelter for adults with special needs where he spent many of his later years serving some of the most needy souls. It’s an honest, heartbreaking, challenging diary of a man all-consumingly following God’s calling.

I just happened to be reading the chapter on Nouwen’s first Christmas in the community the other day. On the entry for December 23 Nouwen offers a humble Christmas prayer, and I wanted to share that with you today. Here is the prayer in full: Continue reading

Merry Christmas From Conan and The Boss

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You thought I’d go all Christmas season without writing about Bruce Springsteen?

Did someone ring your Jingle Bells too hard?

Here’s “Merry Christmas Baby” from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band with an assist from Conan O’Brien on guitar.

Yes. Conan O’Brien playing guitar with the E Street Band. If that doesn’t say Christmas, I don’t know what does.

Christmas is a time of celebration. It’s a time of gathering and singing together with everyone around. It’s about inviting people who wouldn’t normally be there into the joy.

Think about it – it wasn’t just Jesus, Mary and Joseph who made the Christmas story possible. God invited three wise men to come out of the East and play a part. He invited an ordinary innkeeper to play a role. He invited the manager of a lowly manger to provide a home for the newborn king.

Ordinary people invited into the extraordinary celebration of the newborn king. Now that’s something to sing about.

If you’re having a humbug kind of day – stop. Breathe. Watch the video. Or find your favorite Christmas song.

Sing along. Take a few minutes to take it all in and consider all the reasons you have to celebrate. Remember God is inviting you to come off the sidelines today and join an incredible story.

Happy Friday.

Merry Friday.

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How To Avoid The Worst Christmas Ever

Let me tell you about the worst Christmas present I ever opened.

My parents would sometimes allow me the scandalous privilege of opening up one present on Christmas eve. One year when I was 9 or 10 my eyes were drawn to a curious cylindrical package. With approval from my parents, I was able to open this gift early.

Filled with the giddy excitement of getting a head start on Christmas, I made confetti out of the wrapping paper.

Then, my heart sank. Continue reading

The Nativity Scene Smackdown

slide.001The Doriot Family Nativity Scene was a war zone.

Every year my parents put out a handmade wooden Nativity scene. There’s a swinging fence, hay on the ground in the barn, a reverent recreation of the first Christmas.

And every year I couldn’t help but desecrate it.

The first thing I did when the Nativity Scene came out of the attic was hijack it to use with my wrestling figures. The barn became the backdrop for an epic wrestling match. I called it the annual Christmas Clash.

The Christmas Clash was the centerpiece of my make-believe wrestling federation – the biggest card of the year, my own personal Wrestlemania. For some reason I loved having this beautiful barn as the setpiece for my miniature grapplers to have their most important matches.

The baby Jesus sat in the background and an angel looked down overhead as Shawn Michaels and Diesel wrestled all around. This is what I turned the Christmas story into as a child.

What have we turned Christmas into?

The mission of POP GOD has been to seek God in the present tense of pop culture. You would think it’d be easier than ever to see God’s presence in pop culture during Christmas. But Christmas has become less a celebration of the arrival of a Savior and more of a pagan holiday celebrating generic platitudes like giving and happiness and togetherness.

God has allowed us to redefine our worldly celebration of the birth of His Son in many different ways. Still, if you look closely, you can see the spirit of Christ amongst the masses. Just as the baby Jesus was present in my Nativity Scene Smackdowns, the Lord is present in the pop culture of Christmas.

So this season on POP GOD, I don’t want to ask the question of “Where is God underneath the wrapping paper?”

Instead, I want to ask, “Where is God in the wrapping paper?”

Where is God in the minutiae of this holiday? Where is God in the cheesy Christmas songs and movies? Where is God in egg nog and Christmas Tree Cakes?

I used to think I was being blasphemous with the way I used my wrestling figures. Now I think I was just embodying what Christmas is all about – the presence of the Lord descending into our everyday lives.

As a child though, I relegated the savior to the background as my wrestling figures brawled before His birthplace. This year on POP GOD, we’ll be celebrating the presence of God in the midst of every aspect of Christmas in pop culture.

Stay tuned to POP GOD during the Advent season for a special Christmas countdown. We’ll have a new post every weekday leading up to Christmas including a few Guest Posts and a special Christmas music episode of the POP GOD POPcast.

(If you don’t want to miss anything, enter your email address in the box on the left side of the page to subscribe to POP GOD and have every new post delivered to your inbox.)

Christmas does not mean what it once did. God’s presence is in the background of how the world celebrates the season. But He is still there – if only we will look.

Did you ever misuse your family’s Christmas decorations as a child? What’s an unusual place you’ve seen Jesus at Christmas? Leave a comment below and join the Christmas conversation: