1. K. Chesterton once wrote:

This at least seems to me to be the main problem for (those who would understand life)…How can we contrive to be at once astonished at the world and yet at home in it?  How can this world give us at once the fascination of a strange town and the comfort and honour of being our own town? … We need this life of practical romance; the combination of something that is strange with something that is secure.  We need to view the world as to combine an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome. We need to be happy in this wonderland without once being merely comfortable.

Orthodoxy, p.11

I believe that a reason Christmas means so much to so many people, even those who never come to a church is that, more than any other event in the year, Christmas combines elements of wonder with elements of the familiar – of home.  Indeed, Frederick Buechner writes of our “going home for Christmas” and says that “home, finally, is the manger in Bethlehem, the place where at midnight even the oxen kneel.”

I would like for us to discuss today how Christmas combines both elements of wonder and elements of home.

1)  Think about Christmas when you were growing up.  What was it like? What are some of the traditions you remember and cherish?

2)  Think about how you celebrate Christmas now.  What traditions do you incorporate to help you and your family feel “at home” in Christmas?  What do you most look forward to each year?

3)  What are the elements of wonder in Christmas?  How do we express this wonder in our traditions?  What might bring out this wonder more for you or for your family?

4)  Listen to the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20).  What are the elements of wonder? What enables us to feel at home in Bethlehem?