Christmas Parties in Desolate Places

02closeup_scrooge_cratchit“I’m a Christian, so I don’t go to parties,” said a person to me recently. There was a time in my life I would have accepted such a judgment about parties without qualification. The theology behind the idea of canceling Christmas is partly to blame for this tepid approach to life. Indeed the Lord does give his peace to us not as the world gives  with the implication that all worldly parties without Him will always fall short of the mark. But where does this trepidation towards partying in general and towards specific Christian feasts/parties mean for the life in Christ? How do we answer Scrooge’s argument to his jubilant nephew in our musical adaptation of Dicken’s classic Carol:

“The 25th of December from what I remember is no special day, just a date.” Continue reading

A Sobering Christmas Ghost Story: REPOST

It has been three years since this last time that Scrooge: A Christmas Carol was staged and this review was published. It is happening again, and the Friar Family is in it. Please don’t miss the action. Click on the banner below to buy tickets and come see us.

banner

leech-marleys-ghost-5
December 15, 2013
Concord, MA

Every year faithful Christians struggle with the rush and distraction of holiday preparations and long to take a moment to slow down and reflect on the real meaning of the season. It is an especially difficult struggle for Orthodox Christians as we are prescribed by Mother Church to fast in our preparation to meet the newborn King in his Nativity. The Lenten Fast by comparison is somewhat easier in the sense that the season is already more austere in the wider culture (everyone fasting in the springtime, if for no other religious reason, so that they can fit into summertime bathing suits). The weeks leading up to Christmas in America are anything but austere. Between Christmas parties at work, holiday concerts galore, and the extra latte at Starbucks to keep up our shopping stamina, few things in the broader culture give us pause to stop and reflect on our eternal destiny with one amazing exception, Charles Dicken’s classic Christmas ghost story, A Christmas Carol. Continue reading

Little Ballet Star

Little Ballet StarIt was Tilly’s birthday and she was excited about visiting a theater. Her aunt Gina was going to perform in the ballet, sleeping beauty. She had a surprise for Tilly.

When Tilly came to the theater, she followed Aunt Gina backstage. There, Gina gave her a costume to wear for the show. Aunt Gina danced beautifully.

Then she invited Tilly onstage to do a special birthday dance! Tilly felt so happy. After the show, she said, “I wish I could see it all over again.”

Forgotten Treasures

But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.

― C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism

snowedinOf all the children’s picture books we have read or reviewed for our yearly  Best of the Best, none stands out more dearly to me this time of the year than a tale about a family in the early 20th century in the American Wild West. They settled in one of the most desolate regions of the West, the open, wind-swept prairies of Wyoming, and the story opens with their yearly ritual at the onset of winter: saying goodbye to their community schoolhouse, buying gobs of paper and pencils at the town store, and raiding the local library for pounds of books to last them through the isolating months ahead of closed roads and home-bound activity. Continue reading

The Feast of Faith

kidsiconOne of the most awkward moments in my life happened the first time I visited an Orthodox Church. I came armed with my trusty notebook containing all the biblical questions I was prepared to hurl at anyone who might ask. From my infancy, I had known the Holy Scriptures which were intended to make me wise unto salvation; at that point in my life, however, they served more to puff up my ego. I thought I was prepared for any question about my faith, to give a defense in the form of words. What I was NOT prepared for was an argument in the form of images, a faith in the form of a divine feast, and a challenger in the form and substance of a little child. While I stood through the beautifully festive service with my notebook of interrogations, a wordless boy of not more than three next to me gazed upward in silent wonder at an icon of a saint. I put away my notebook and realized quickly that this babe was getting something that I was missing: wonder in the face of something or rather Someone much larger than my feeble intellect. Continue reading