569: Rethinking holidays … What are you waiting for? (We might surprise you!)

Annunciation-by-Henry-Ossawa-Tanner-1898
T
his week, we hope to surprise you as millions of Americans rethink the holiday season.
St Nicholas and Santa Claus     Our stories this week follow the theme we set in our earlier 10 Best Bets for Holiday Shopping, which selected only books that we can describe as truly “awe inspiring.” This week’s big author interview on Wednesday features Ace Collins, whose new book by Zondervan definitely will surprise you.
    Our top image today is from Henry Ossawa Tanner’s still-stunning “Annunciation,” painted in 1898 to show Mary encountering a strange apparition—an angel telling her of a special calling. (Tanner was the first African-American painter to be celebrated worldwide. He traveled to the Middle East to add authenticity to his paintings and, before he died in 1937, he worked for the Red Cross and painted the front in World War I.)
    This is a season when images crowd around us—especially those of Santa Claus. You’ll learn on Wednesday that Ace Collins does not rail against “commercialization” of Christmas. On the contrary, he’s thankful for it!
    But, this week in particular, Santa Claus is a confusing image—because this coming Sunday, for more than a billion Christians, it’s St. Nicholas Day. Yes, the “real” St. Nicholas. (Our image at right today is a weird hybrid from the Victorian era.)
    In Bible Here and Now (our new special section for high-school youth groups), this week we ask teen-agers to sort out who they’re waiting for: Santa Claus, St. Nicholas and Jesus.
    Over and over, the Question of the Week is: “What are you waiting for?”
    Please, Email us at [email protected] with any thoughts, ideas, reflections you’re pondering this week.

FINALLY, AN ADVENT PRAYER
from our friends in Scotland at the Iona Community …
Here’s a special seasonal prayer you might enjoy sharing this week …

God, so much of faith is waiting
   
like a pregnant woman waiting in hope
   
like a people under siege, holding out till relief comes
   
like a soul lost in the darkness,
   
unable to see the light
   
yet stumbling through the night because somewhere,
   
out ahead, day will surely break

   
God, be with us in our waiting.

    (Special thanks to the author, Kathy Galloway, and to Editor Neil Paynter for permission to share this prayer. It’s from Kathy’s book, “The Pattern of Our Days,” from Wild Goose Publications.)

PLEASE TELL US WHAT YOU THINK:

    This is a good time to sign up for our Monday-morning ReadTheSpirit Planner by Emailit’s
free and you can cancel it any time you’d like to do so. The Planner
goes out each week to readers who want more of an “inside track” on
what we’re seeing on the horizon, plus it’s got a popular “holidays”
section.

    Not only do we welcome your notes—but our readers enjoy them as well. You can do this
anytime by clicking on the “Comment” links at the end of each story.
You also can Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm. We’re also reachable on Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, YouTube and other social-networking sites as well.
    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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