We must never allow anything to blind us to the true significance of what happened at Bethlehem so long ago. Nothing can alter the fact that we live on a visited planet.

J.B. Phillips, Good News

For all the greeting card and sermonic rhetoric, I do not think that much rejoicing happens around Christmastime, least of all about the coming of the Lord. There is, I notice, a lot of holiday frolicking, but that is not the same as rejoicing. In any case, maybe outbursts of either frolicking or rejoicing are premature, if John the Baptist has credibility. He identifies repentance as the message and the sentiment of Advent.

William Stringfellow, A Keeper of the Word

It is no use saying that we are born 2,000 years too late to give room to Christ . …Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts . …And giving shelter or food to anyone who asks for it, or needs it, is giving it to Christ.

Dorothy Day: Selected Writings

Human nature is like a stable inhabited by the ox of passion and the ass of prejudice—animals which take up a lot of room and which I suppose most of us are feeding on the quiet. And it is there between them, pushing them out, that Christ must be born, and in their very manger he must be laid—and they will be the first to fall on their knees before him. Sometimes Christians seem far nearer to those animals than to Christ in his simple poverty, self-abandoned to God.

Evelyn Underhill, Light of Christ

Probably few of us have the faith or the nerve to tamper with hallowed Christmas traditions on a large scale, or with our other holiday celebrations. But a small experiment might prove interesting. What if, instead of doing something, we were to be something special? Be a womb. Be a dwelling for God. Be surprised.

Loretta Ross-Gotta, Letters from the Holy Ground

We are better givers than getters, not because we are generous people but because we are proud, arrogant people. The Christmas story—the one according to Luke, not Dickens—is not about how blessed it is to be givers but about how essential it is to see ourselves as receivers.

William Willimon, The Christian Century

We must speak in practical terms. Either Christ's coming has meaning for us now, or else it means nothing at all.

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, Action Waiting

From Watch for the Night: Readings for Advent and Christmas (Plough, 2001), with permission.

Related Elsewhere

See Christianity Today's special page of Christmas articles.

Past Reflections columns include:

Love & Marriage (November 13, 2001)
The Word of God (October 22, 2001)
Leadership (October 11, 2001)
Suffering (September 13, 2001)
Change (August 14, 2001)
Living Tradition (July 18, 2001)
Sacred Spaces (June 11, 2001)
Friendship (May 17, 2001)
The Cross (Apr. 12, 2001)
The Quotable Stott (Apr. 27, 2001)

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.