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1000 Black Lines

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Merry Christmas!


Last night my family went to Westville Pub to enjoy an energetic performance by Gypsy Bandwagon. For a Christmas Eve, the Pub was busier than I thought. We arrived a little after 8 PM and there was only one booth available near the back.

Gypsy Bandwagon played lively Irish and Scottish jigs and reels, tunes that sounded a bit Bluegrass, classical piano numbers and traditional gypsy pieces. They even brought gifts to give away to people in the Pub. If you owned a dog, you won a wrapped gift. If you like the Chicago Cubs, you received a gift. If you liked the last number they played, you got a free Gypsy Bandwagon CD.

The band added original pieces here and there as well as many traditional Christmas favorites. They performed a 16th century carol which was new to me. I don't even remember the name of it, but it haunted me. I imagined a New England tavern must have sounded much like last night over a hundred or two hundred years ago.

Thinking back to how I was reared, I suspect the notion of attending a show in a pub with kids on Christmas Eve must seem odd if not a bit disturbing. My son loved the whole experience. I'm not sure if it was the ginger ale or the nachos or the bouncing on the booth seat to the music or the fact that he was up past his bed time but he seemed glad to be there. His baby brother fell asleep.

The drummer, Uncle Biscuit, came back and said hello during a quick break after "last call for drinks" was announced. He's a local cartoonist and illustrator who I know. We left shortly after that greeting--wishing him and his wife a Merry Christmas.

It had begun to rain outside as the family gathered into the car and we drove home. As we arrived home my son said, "Our home is waiting for us." I like that expression--home is waiting for us. The smell of fresh cut poplar was sweet in the damp night air as we entered our waiting home.

Today it is Christmas. The first recorded celebration of Christmas took place in Rome on this day AD 336. St. Francis of Assisi assembled one of the first Nativity scenes in Greccio, Italy on December 25, 1223. The well known Christmas carol "Silent Night" was performed for the first time at the Church of Saint Nikolaus in Oberndorff, Austria on this day in 1818. I wonder what the first Christmas celebration was like. Was there egg nog? Probably not. I wonder what Christmas celebrations will be like in a 100 years.

My family attended church this morning. Coena Domini, or Eucharist, was celebrated. In a non-denominational church they simply call it "Lord's Supper." I guess it's okay to be simple. After all, it was twelve rather ordinary, simple guys that witnessed the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. So many people I meet want to be different, want to be unusual, want to be known as an individual. What shame is there in being common? Being common is not one of the seven deadly sins.

As the elements of Eucharist were distributed, I thought about Jesus the babe born in Bethlehem. It is reported that Jesus fulfilled more than 300 prophesies. During the morning service I casually read of ten. I'm not a theologian and I'm sure there are others who know more about this than I, but I find the fulfilled prophesies amazing. I'm not a mathematician either, but the probability factor is equally fascinating. Ann Rice admits to discovering similar facts as well when she researched her recent book, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.

What I didn't find fascinating was the small plastic cup (which resembles a urine sample cup) filled with grape juice and a crumb of broken Saltines. Considered by some Christians to be a Blessed Sacrament, I had a challenge finding anything sacred about a piss glass of grape juice and a scrape of cracker. But these are simple reminders of a greater story--nothing wrong with simple, common things.

For some reason I thought of the pale ale and nachos I consumed last night at Westville Pub. Why couldn't ale and nachos be sacred reminders of the holy truth? Maybe that's a bit sacrilegious. It was on the night that the Christ was betrayed that he shared his last meal of wine and bread with twelve common guys who were being prepared to turn the world upside down. I identified with Jesus the Christ by taking the Eucharist.

Am I more holier now than I was before? No, but it is a curious thing that such common objects represent such sacred truths. Yet, sometimes it's the simple things in life that cause the most challenges.



Merry Christmas, ya'll!

Happy holidays to you and you. Thanks for leaving seasonal greetings in the comments! Maybe some day we'll celebrate the sacraments of pale ale, nachos and mango salsa.

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  1. Blogger zhoen | 7:40 PM, December 27, 2005 |  

    Nothing wrong with simple things. But I think the sacred should be the best we can do. So, good beer and special nachos- sure. No-brand Saltines and drop of cheap grape juice-well then it's simple without the effort. I think the effort is where the holy comes in.

    Sounds like a great band, and a wonderful evening.

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