A Gift of Hope & St. Nicking

Later today I’ll be going with Christa to participate in St. Nicking, a tradition one of her friend’s has established to bless families in need at Christmas. Sleepless, with Christmas on my mind, I remembered a post I wrote years ago about the importance of this holiday. It took me a while but I finally found it. I originally wrote it December 24, 2007. I’ve enjoyed re-reading and re-writing it. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it too.

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Last year, I read the myth of Pandora’s Box for the first time. I’d heard the story many times but hadn’t read it. I didn’t know that after Pandora let out Death and Despair, along with a host of other evils, the last thing she let out was Hope. Once free, Hope flew around the world healing the wounds inflicted by all of the other captives from the box. Concluding the story was a small historical note that centuries after the other Greek deities were no longer worshiped people continued to worship Hope.

That last line often runs through my mind: “Centuries after the other Greek deities were no longer worshiped people continued to worship Hope.” For me, this sentence alludes to the power and importance of the Christmas season in our context.

Much like the white, fluttering apparition that escaped Pandora’s Box, Jesus Christ came into our aching world to bring healing and restoration. Christmas is a pregnant moment* asking us to enter into Mary’s fear, uncertainty and faith and Joseph’s anxiety, love and faithfulness. It asks us to wonder at the miracle of life and rejoice in the birth of a man marked for greatness, the heir of Abraham, destined to bless the world. It captures us in that moment before the grief and torment of the crucifixion, through pregnant with it, in which we are transfixed by wonder and joy at the promise of peace to come. Most of all, it sweeps us up in Hope.

All of the great Christmas carols, which are sung too little even in churches now during this season (a personal pet peeve of mine), capture the power of Hope that can transform ourselves and our world. As we decorate our cities and our homes, as we give to those in need and express our love in gifts and gestures to friends and family, we participate in the activities of Hope.

So, this season may you be swept up in Hope and rejoice in the blessing of its incarnation in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

* A pregnant moment is concept that was developed by the German aesthetician Gotthold Ephraim Lessing it refers usually to a depiction of a moment in a story before the climax that engages the viewers. A well-chosen pregnant moment gives free rein to the imagination of the viewer compelling him/her to think of all of the possible outcomes while also captivating them in the importance of that moment before-hand when anything was possible.

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