Christmas is only a few days away, and, as someone who believes in this holiday in the Christian way, I tend to reflect on it a bit differently. Part of what I always think about is how I really appreciate the way I have learned about the bible. First, my father had a brief stint in seminary in his early life and so he has always studied the bible in an academic way - with the greek, the latin and quite a few other translations at his fingertips. I have no doubt that it was this thought process that helped our family pick the church that we've attended since I was little - the only church I've ever known.
Our church evolved out of a bible study and it still holds that same focus. You should have seen me going to friends' churches as a small child, the rituals of standing, sitting, singing, and a more "life lesson" sermon were things that were new to me. You see, our pastor was elected by the original bible study to be our leader. He is brilliant - he worked with Einstein back in the day - and is literally one of those rocket scientist types. His extreme thirst for knowledge has translated to how he studies the bible and how he challenges us. A sermon is not a 25 minute time period of him talking at us, its him sharing his study and what he has found and inviting discussion and debate. He cites greek, and latin and the differences between this word for "prayer" and that word for "prayer" in the original language. The man can recite the entire King James translation...by heart.
I appreciate our paster, Art, for what he brings to the study of religion. He brings intense critical thinking and also intense balance of faith. His knowledge is flat out astounding. At this time of year, I always reflect on what I have learned as the reason for the season, and have tremendous appreciation for the ways in which I have been taught about religion - not with guilt, or intense focus on ritual for ritual's sake, but for seeking understanding and knowledge and, sometimes, just going forward on faith. Because sometimes, even outside of religion, that's all you've got to get you through.
I don't write this to convince anyone to think any certain way about the holiday of Christmas, but I just want to recognize someone who has truly sought knowledge and had the most incredible capacity for belief, and love, and education and debate - more than pretty much anyone I know.
1 week ago