On the First Day of Christmas: Rozhdestvo (The Nativity)

My Christmas daybook for these 12 days of celebrating. We'll be spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. Join me, won't you? 

For an introduction read this post: Christmastide.

Note: If you're reading this in email, the formatting usually looks much better at the website. Just click the post title to get there.

Watch: Rozhdestvo (The Nativity) (1996), written and directed by Mikhail Aldashin


I'm grateful to Victoria Emily Jones at Art & Theology for pointing me to this stunning and sweet short film. 

"Rozhdestvo (The Nativity) (1996), written and directed by Mikhail Aldashin: I am blown away by this wordless animated short from Russia. Using a naive art style washed in sepia tones and set to a soundtrack of Bach and Beethoven, it tells the story of how angels, humans, and animals came together on the first Christmas to worship the newborn Christ. It opens with Gabriel peeking out from behind a tree at Mary hanging laundry, then chasing her down a footpath to tell her what God is up to. For every person and critter he encounters, Gabriel flashes open the book of Godโ€™s word, pointing them to the shalom it prophesies and inviting them to enter in. By the end, shepherds, fishermen, kings, rabbits, lambs, and lion are participating in a round dance outside the stable, while an angel orchestra (which includes violins and timpani!) plays from the rooftop."

O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
— Book of Common Prayer, Collect for the Feast of the Nativity


Savor both giving and receiving gifts.

Practice gift giving and receiving

{An excerpt from my post Family liturgies for Christmas & my Mama's rule for feasting.}

It seems that, in my lifetime, people have changed their opinions about Christmas gift giving. Maybe Charlie Brown started it, bemoaning commercialism? We join his melancholy lament in our house; we also guard against extreme measures that might on the surface seem wise, even spiritual. Christ taught us to give our possessions to the poor, yes, but He was no pious ascetic, shunning feasts and merrymaking.

Jesus, Himself, showed us how to receive gifts well. Picture him, feet covered with Mary's perfume, delighting in the scent of her costly gift. She shamelessly -- and extravagantly -- gave; Jesus shamelessly received. Judas' super-spiritual nagging that Mary wasted an opportunity to give to the poor couldn't even ruin the moment. Maybe Jesus had learned the joy of receiving, all those years earlier, when men from another country filled his mother's living room with abundance.

As in every other practice for living, Jesus shows us the way to delight in both the giving and the receiving of gifts.  We bask in gift-giving at Christmas, not only to remember what Christ modelled the first time He came to earth, but also to remind each other what we anticipate when He comes again.  Haven't we been told our future reconciliation with Jesus unveils the greatest Gift Exchange in History?  He makes a new Heaven and a New Earth, and we give Him all glory, laud, and honor (including something about crowns)?  No matter how spiritual it might seem, fostering guilty consciences by limiting our enjoyment of Christmas does not make us more like Christ.

There is a time for fasting; Christmas is not that time. (read more here)

(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2017 here.)