In his Christmas Day sermon at the Washington National Cathedral, the Episcopal bishop of Washington urged the faithful to not forget the true meaning of the day.
“As our years increase from childhood to adulthood, Christmas seems too often to be losing to the annual frenetic pre-Christmas search for the right gift for the right person, or pre-Thanksgiving training for the onslaught of the mall olympics that we have come to call Black Friday,” the Right Rev. John Bryson Chane said.
“Too often, the magic of our childhood memories are lost in the chaos of adult Christmases,” Bishop Chane told a packed cathedral in a service televised in several cities.
“It is Christmas that reminds us — if we have forgotten — that miracles really can and really do happen.”
Bishop Chane also noted that in many ways, the world in which Jesus Christ lived was similar to how things still are in 2005.
“A world which was then filled with the horrors of war, terrorism, natural catastrophe, the painful truths of poverty, disease, homelessness, political and religious oppression — very much like the world that you and I now live in today,” he said.
He said people of means have an obligation to provide for those with little, as Jesus taught.
“As a child born homeless, Jesus reminds us that being homeless or a refugee is no longer acceptable in a world filled with such wealth and abundance,” Bishop Chane said.
He also touched on the debate over use — or nonuse — of the word “Christmas,” which became a more contentious issue this year.
At one point, Congress had a “holiday tree,” until House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, insisted the name revert to “Christmas tree.”
The bishop urged his listeners to think back to a simpler time, “when real Christmas trees were called ‘Christmas trees’ and not ‘holiday trees.’”