What's the Reason for the Season?

What’s the reason for the season?
Canon PowerShot S80

I remember well making this photograph ten years ago. A little church within walking distance of my home planted a row of pine trees on the edge of their property, I imagine to block the sights and sounds of the busy main road. For many years at Christmastime, they strung lights around them all. It was lovely, especially at night.

It was just ten degrees out that mid-December night I decided to walk over there and photograph the scene. I brought a tripod — I would need to make long exposures with my Canon PowerShot S80, which was my primary camera then. I made a couple dozen photos here that night. I would have made more, but neither the camera nor my hands could abide the cold.

Back at home I sorted through these photos and selected two that turned out well, including this one. I then wrote a post about Christmas that used them both.

That post was about coming to terms with Christmas. Most of my time as a Christian had been in a church that did not celebrate the birth of Christ. The Bible did not expressly authorize it, the logic went, and therefore we should not do it. This is a niche position in Christendom.

I left that church over its legalism and landed in a more mainstream branch of this faith. The churches I’ve belonged to since all celebrate Christmas. I struggled with it for a long time. Writing that post helped me come to terms with it. I’ll re-share that post here tomorrow.

Last year at church it fell to me to give the Christmas Eve sermon. (You can read it here.) How far I’ve come in my journey!

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single frame: What’s the reason for the season?

A lit cross at night.


17 thoughts on “single frame: What’s the reason for the season?

  1. Andy Umbo says:

    I salute you using a tripod with a point-and-shoot! As a pro, we used to say: “…how do you know you have the ‘right’ tripod?” Answer: when it’s heavy enough you don’t want to carry it. Ditto for all equipment!

    • I knew that at night I would be working almost entirely with the electric lights, and my Canon S80 would surely need long exposure times. It did, of course. I couldn’t have made these photos without a tripod!

  2. -N- says:

    Merry Christmas, Jim! Not a Christian, but brought up like most Americans with the mainstream culture. I am always touched by the nativity scenes, and to me, they are the ones which really speak of the symbolism in Christianity. In days of science and hard reality, the symbols speak on levels like nothing else does. The symbols of hope, renewal, growth, humble beginnings and the idea that greatness can grow, like an acorn into an oak. Hardcore religion often does away with the messages of Christianity and fails to provide the hope of the faith; rather, such approaches condemn and defeat and fail to celebrate the elements of God to be found in all, however you choose to celebrate.

    • I agree, hardcore religion pushes the simple hope of this faith well into the background, so much so that sometimes it seems to disappear. It makes me sad. I wish for a return to that simple hope across Christendom. It’s so compelling.

  3. I’m not particularly religious but I love listening to friends talk about their religion especially when it’s a clam, reasonable and completely non-invasive way of sharing. Frontline PBS uploaded their 1998 four-hour documentary called “The First Christians” on YouTube a couple of days ago and I’m slightly more than halfway through it. It’s fascinating and I can’t wait to finish it. Merry Christmas!

  4. I’ve struggled with Christmas in the USA ever since I moved here from the commonwealth Caribbean in the 1980s. The commercialism is so over the top. I was raised Roman Catholic and Christmas was always about Christ and going to church and being with family. In the USA it seems to be all about buying stuff.

    I’m no longer Christian and I’m married to a Hindu and our family struggles to avoid Christmas as much as possible. The pandemic actually made that easier this year. Not being socially pressured into participating in the office or listening to non-stop jingles has been liberating.

    Merry Christmas to your and yours Jim.

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