The First Xmas Carol - Skoutajan

 

First North American Christmas Carol was written
by Jean de Brebeuf, a missionary priest and martyr
 
By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective  
                    
'Twas In the Moon of Wintertime is undoubtedly the first carol ever written on the North American continent. Jean de Brebeuf, a missionary priest and martyr, saw the Incarnation taking place in 1644 in a true north native setting.
 
I can only imagine that the divines of the Curia in far off Rome were left unimpressed and frowned on the transposition of the manger scene from Bethlehem to the wilds of Huronia. 
 
William Kuralek, the Canadian artist, published a book of his nativity imaginings in the Canada of depression times (A Northern Nativity). Among others the holy birth takes place in a boxcar on a windblown siding somewhere in the prairies or in an igloo in the far north. 
 
The nativity needs to be re-imagined. Indeed, the Christ child is not to be constrained to the Bethlehem of the first century of the Common Era, or to its reenactments in the countless church halls and sanctuaries.  We need to see God’s investment in humanity today. 
 
-See the babe born in a drafty plywood shack on the frozen Albany River or Attawapiskat.
-See him born in a crowded refugee camp in Gaza.
-See him born in a slum dwelling in Cairo, Calcutta, Bangkok or Guatemala City.
-See the Christ child spending his first hours of life among the thunder of guns and explosions of Syria or among the starving in the camps of Chad and Somalia.
No, they are not Christians and neither was Jesus.
 
God has little meaning for me unless I sense his/her investment in human life today. Every child born has within it the divine spark. I believe in pan-en-theism which is not to be mistaken with pantheism.  It means that there is in all creation something of God. 
 
Reverence for life, indeed reverence for all of creation, does not allow us to forget the “least of these." Human life contains the sacred as does our much beleaguered planet Earth. We are on holy ground. We dare not treat it lightly. 
 
As we celebrate Christmas, whether it be in a candlelit church or a tinsel bedecked home, become aware that The Mighty Gitchi Manitou is present  as he/she was in that Jerusalem suburb, or the “humble lodge of broken bark,” or the birthing rooms in our modern hospitals.
 
Brebeuf ends,  
 
O children of the forest glen,
the angel song is true,
the holy child of earth and heaven,
is born this day for you
.......... in excelsis Gloria! 

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