Christmas and the Sacrament

December 20, 2004 | 18 comments
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Every birth is a nativity for the family involved. Every newborn babe is shocking proof that innocence and holiness can exist in fleshly vessels. Every parent can tell you that every little infant is a surety that better things can be then the ponderous and deadly accretions of the World. Births are a miracle. Surprise and joy! Wonder and glory!

In this respect, every birth follows the pattern of Christ’s birth. His birth does to all of us what births do to parents. He unmans all creation.

In a sense, I think, we are spiritually reborn when we witness a birth. All men and women who witness it are reborn with Christ’s birth and we individual parents are reborn at the birth of our children.

That, at least, was the conclusion I came to while thinking over Christmas and rebirth this Sunday during the sacrament. As you know, the prophets explicitly describe baptism as being born again. They describe the sacrament as the weekly “renewing of our baptismal covenants,” which is the matter-of-fact Mormon way of saying that every week in the sacrament we are (or can be) born yet again as new sons and daughters of Christ. It seems to me that I’ve experienced that rebirth. At least, I have felt the something during some sacraments that I have also felt on witnessing my daughters’ births or on standing as a Christmas witness to the timeless birth of the little lord Jesus. I have felt the value, hope, freshness, and vitality that that’s slowly drained out of everything come flooding back in. Nothing looked the same; I’d only seen it with before with dead eyes.

This rebirth experience, I realized, has happened to me many times. I was baptized once. I’ve often taken the sacrament efficaciously. I’ve seen daughters born twice. And every Christmas, in my heart I’ve gone to the stable to glory in the Infant. All those are rebirths for me and remembering them was a sweet accompaniment to the sacrament.

Then, as I was sitting there with the bread and water, I suddenly saw myself in contrast to Him. I have been reborn and will be reborn many times. He was born but once.

Certainly we celebrate his birth every year. But we don’t do it, I think, as if he were being reborn. We do it as if his birth was somehow timeless and therefore ever present. It is as if he were the Lamb slain and born from the beginning of the world. But now can a birth, how can anything, be timeless? The answer came. His birth continues–the joyful promise of it is as good today as it was then–because he has never blighted it and thus has never ceased to be that child. The omnipotent Jesus is in some sense still the Child.

Every baby grows a little crooked as it grows. Every sacrament goer leaves the meeting touched, if still only lightly, with stupor. Every Christmas brings its quarrel. Every new leaf stiffens in the summer and sickens in the fall. He alone–the Christ Child, the Jesukin–was born and lives an evergreen.

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18 Responses to Christmas and the Sacrament

  1. [...] e ourselves. But Christmas does not come just once a year. His birth is unlooked for and eternal. I wish a Merry Christmas to you and yours. I wish you peace and joy. I wish you a [...]

  2. Times & Seasons » Democracy Wall on February 17, 2005 at 10:32 pm

    [...] instance, people often have things to say about the blog or where its going, or even about an individual coblogger, but they’re reduced to plaintive posts on other blog [...]

  3. brian fielding on December 20, 2004 at 12:40 pm

    Adam,

    Your writing style is consistenly silly, derivative, boorish and hydrogen hyperinflated. Nausicaa revisited. Tight boots? No. He’s lame. Oh!

    Brian

  4. Adam Greenwood on December 20, 2004 at 12:54 pm

    Guilty as charged, unfortunately.

  5. Ryan Bell on December 20, 2004 at 1:03 pm

    Excellent post, Adam. The Jesus as eternal child/evergreen image is beautiful.

  6. Davis Bell on December 20, 2004 at 2:00 pm

    Bryan,

    And you are just mean. What an undecent and small thing to say to someone’s sincere expression of faith. If you disagree with the content, go ahead and take it apart. But to criticize his writing style? Why? To what end?

    Davis

  7. Larry on December 20, 2004 at 2:32 pm

    Adam,

    Excellent post. You are right on the feelings that accompany Sacrament meeting. There is something that goes to the core of our being after partaking of the Sacrament even when we are not fully involved in it.

  8. Kristine on December 20, 2004 at 4:47 pm

    Far better to be without style than without taste, Brian.

  9. john fowles on December 20, 2004 at 5:14 pm

    Yes, Brian, your contribution was truly low class.

    Adam’s style is his signature. It is very Catholic (I find), which is natural considering his enthusiasm for Notre Dame! But simply insulting Adam’s thoughts because you personally dislike his writing style is very impolite to say the least.

  10. Adam Greenwood on December 20, 2004 at 5:35 pm

    All right, all right. I feel more than amply defended. Thank you very much. Now let’s move on.

    Merry Christmas!

  11. Jack on December 20, 2004 at 5:53 pm

    I’m not a good judge of style in literature, but one of the things that I like about Adam’s posts is that they’re not laden with abstracts and concepts when dealing with gospel subjects. He tends to convey a feeling for the subject by means of something more parable-like, something that we can draw into ourselves. Doesn’t the best literature affect change in this way?

  12. Jack on December 20, 2004 at 5:55 pm

    Sorry Adam, ‘had to through another one in there…

  13. Adam Greenwood on December 20, 2004 at 6:05 pm

    I can now admit that I am really “Brian Fielding ” (and “Steve Evans” and “Aaron B” and “Ed Enochs”, but that’s a post for another day). :)

    All right, maybe not. But I’m not too upset about the Fielding comment. I wrote Mr. Fielding about his comment and he sent me back a very kind apology. Plus, I *do* lay it on pretty thick sometimes.

    And now to something more important:
    Merry Christmas, everyone.

  14. Aaron Brown on December 20, 2004 at 6:57 pm

    “Nausicaa”?

    ???

    Aaron B

  15. Adam Greenwood on December 20, 2004 at 7:06 pm

    I asked the same question. Mr. Fielding said it was in James Joyce’s Ulysses. If more details than that are needed, someone else will have to provide them. I have no plans to read Ulysses.

  16. Larry on December 20, 2004 at 8:16 pm

    Merry Christmas to all !

  17. Greg on December 20, 2004 at 8:25 pm

    I looked up Nausicaa — she is a character in Homer’s Odyssey who meets the shipwrecked Odysseus while washing clothes on the shore. Brian’s reference is apparently to the Nausicaa chapter in Ulysses, which contains the infamous (and to some, vulgar) Leo/Gerty beach scene.

  18. Kristine on December 20, 2004 at 8:44 pm

    “Plus, I *do* lay it on pretty thick sometimes.”

    Really? I never noticed ;)

    Seriously, I think your style occasionally gets in the way of what you are meaning to say, but not this time–this is a lovely bit of connecting the metaphorical dots, and quite moving to boot. I hadn’t thought about how we are reborn in witnessing a birth, and hadn’t quite named that feeling I’ve experienced watching a baptism.

    Thanks.

WELCOME

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