We Need To Talk
Originally scheduled for December 20
Let me be
perfectly clear. Your author lives in Southern California — yes,
Disneyland, beach bunnies, Hollywood stars and smog. Normally this
is not too much of a handicap, but at Christmas time we get a visual
bombardment from Vermont. I’m talking about those Christmas cards we
all send. Designed in Maine, printed in China, they pose an
interesting form of culture shock. Southern California has a climate
very much like Israel; there are only two places in the world where
the Joshua tree cactus grows. Israel is one; you guess the other. So
here’s the problem:
First, what’s with this horse pulling a vehicle with no wheels? We
know about horses. But we can at least ask that whatever you’re
using behind that horse should have seatbelts.
Snow. Yes we know what it is. We occasionally visit it to go
skiing. But we keep it up in the mountains where it doesn’t bother
Have you seen how these people dress in Christmas cards? If we did
that there would be an epidemic of heatstroke.
At the Rose Parade each year, there will be some Iowa native
holding up a sign saying, “Hi mom. Windchill factor +85°.” He is
the difficulties of explaining to our small children just what these
things on Christmas cards are all about — and what possible
relationship they can have to Christmas. If you think this is a
problem for us, can you imagine all those poor children in Hawaii?
You are warping their little minds with the strange images. (For the
record: your author was born in Alaska. He lives in Southern
California. That is not an accident.)
I bring this
up to you as a matter of reminder. If you live in Vermont, the
Courier and Ives Christmas makes perfect sense. But suppose you are
trying to explain Christmas to someone who lived his entire life in,
say, a jungle. You would be stuck explaining snow, sleighs and
various other items which aren’t really particularly relevant to the
Christmas story. And this planet has a lot of jungle dwellers.
Evangelists know that if you want to be understood, you need to
speak the local language. That’s true not only for the language of
sound, but for the language of symbols as well. An African native
might look at your picture of a sleigh going through the snow and be
completely puzzled. Getting him to the manger at Bethlehem would be
a long trip.
submit, is one of the reasons why Jesus chose the elegantly simple
symbols of Communion. They are common enough across multiple
cultures and easy enough to explain.
The wine, representing Christ’s blood, bears a strong visual
resemblance to blood. (We assume you have sense enough to use a red
wine, or other grape product.) This is a liquid which is almost as
universal as blood.
Bread also is nearly universal, and carries with it the interesting
characteristic that for most people of most times bread was not
sliced but broken — just like the body of Christ.
celebrate Communion remember that you are in fellowship with the
church universal. Billions of Christians celebrate with you. In so
doing the church universal he proclaims the physical sacrifice of
the death of her Lord, Jesus Christ. He’s put it to you plainly, in
simple language. Remember his death on the cross and the change it
should bring in your life. Do this, in remembrance of Him.