Lately I feel as though I’m attracting some really bizarre situations. Everything from the homeless man that disrupted Mass after chugging the entire chalice of wine, to the literal miracle that took place last Sunday, and now to tonight’s caper…for some reason, weird stuff seems to follow me wherever I go.
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OK – Back to the Post
One of my favorite things to do in NYC around Christmas time is to take a walk around dusk. Right when it’s beginning to get dark.
It’s the most beautiful time of the year, in my opinion, because you can see all the Christmas trees twinkling in the windows. And there’s just something about feeling the crisp air on your cheeks and looking at all the buildings and seeing the warm glow of a Christmas tree that really makes it feel special.
Well, last week, walking along, I began to realize that literally every apartment window – I’m not joking, I’m talking 93% of the windows had Christmas trees in them. It was so beautiful! I had Kenny G in my ears playing “O Holy Night” on the saxophone and seeing the Christmas beauty coming from the windows, I was struck by how what’s going on inside of people’s homes is nowhere to be found outside of them. At least in NYC.
I’ve been really struck recently by how un-Christmassy it’s felt. Sure, “Christmas” is still the holiday that is on the 25th that we’re all gearing up for, but it’s “Christmas” in name only. Otherwise it’s just a season of comsumer-driven hustle and bustle.
Case and point, the annual iconic Union Square Christmas market – which has always had red-and-white striped tents – has changed this year, and is now green and yellow.
I mean, not that that really matters, but it just goes to show the secularization of the season. Which, is nothing new, obviously. I wasn’t born yesterday.
But given the un-Christmas vibe in the city, you’d think it’d be full of Grinches and Scrooges.
So I was shocked – literally shocked – by the overwhelming display of Christmas, shining from the windows of every New York apartment.
And I had been mulling over that juxtaposition all weekend, knowing that I was going to incorporate that theme into tonight’s post: about how we need to take our private beliefs and take Christmas to the streets.
So I’m sitting in Mass. It’s the evening. It had been snowing for the last 10 hours. And the church had about, oh… 50-60 people in it. Pathetic showing if you ask me, but that’s a topic for a different day.
Anyways, it comes to the end of Mass. And as is customary, there’s the blessing followed by the “send-off” song. The priest blesses us, says have a great night, the song starts, he processes out, then the people dash out the door. Capiesh?
Well. Tonight, right in the middle of the blessing – in dead silence – this man – who had been sitting just across the aisle from me the entire service – stands up on his chair, and in a big booming voice, starts shouting at the congregation, and at the priest. He’s like yelling about how Christianity is a fake religion and that the priest was “hiding behind the robes” and just all of this really outrageous stuff.
It was honestly one of the most bizarre and, quite honestly terrifying, moments I’ve had, definitely at church, if not in my life. He had this black duffle bag with him, and I was afraid he was going to pull out a weapon or something. But he didn’t.
He was just aggressively ranting.
And the priest couldn’t get him to stop. He told the singer to start the song – the man continued to shout over the vocalist. The priest processed out – and the man then followed the priest – trailing him and continuing to shout at him.
The priest – as the Brooklyn native he was – led the man outside, and on the church steps – in his purple advent vestment – told the man to scram. I’ll let you imagine his exact wording, but let’s just say, it worked.
But gosh. What a freakin experience.
Walking home from church that night, a bit shaken up, I found myself, again, gazing at all the Christmas trees in the windows.
And I thought to myself, now there was a guy who was not keeping “his Christmas tree” hidden.
He was clearly not afraid to make his beliefs known. And not that we should adopt his tactics, but what a juxtaposition.
His one voice was literally able to drown out an entire congregation.
What does that say about us? What does that say about the health of our faith?
That man was literally not afraid to derail an entire church congregation and aggressively make his beliefs known. And yet, we’re terrified to say a measly “Merry Christmas” to the checkout lady at the grocery store?
If nothing else, he was bold.
The reason that man said what he did, is because he could.
My question is: what are we going to do about it?
Because if you’ve got a Christmas tree up in your home, what’s stopping you from living that way outside your four walls?
It’s time to open the door and let Christmas out.
Because if we don’t, I’m afraid it simply won’t survive. At least not in a way that is beyond a marketing gimmick and commercialized spending spree.
The “other side” is clearly not backing down. Neither can we.
It’s our move.
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