Places to go during Advent and Christmas — recommendations by Peter Menkin
Introduction to Advent & Christmas events
The Christmas season has an ethos of joy and celebration, an ethos of well-being in its statement of goodwill to men, and peace on earth. What an odd celebration, and so popular in California and the United States, throughout the Western World, too, of course. Who does not know this? Everyone likes the winter festival Christmas in some sense or another. It is about love, after all, and so the Christian believes. The music celebrates this love of mankind by the great God of history through the birth of his son Jesus Christ.
Writing in her recent book, Camaldoli Benedictine Oblate Paula Huston says of the kind of love Christmas and its ethos of spirit offers: …Jesus puts it very simply; And though not specifically about Christmas, per se, the words speak to the spirit. They will know we are Christians by our love. C.S. Lewis insists that we are almost never converted through logic but instead “infected by a love that moves us so powerfully we can’t help but succumb. A modern spiritual writer, Donald Nichols, reiterates the central importance of love to evangelization when he refers to the “theology of faces,” or the look of love that says everything about the faith behind it. Our society, however, is characterized instead by its hyperindividualism and its intense need for “personal space” and privacy. We feel that we are doing well simply by avoiding conflict. The notion of actually loving one another sounds either idealistic or uncomfortably communal. We much prefer our separateness, even as Christians—hence our many sects and denominations. Though her book is titled, “forgiveness: following Jesus into radical loving,” Paraclete Press, the theme of the book is an indirect remark on God’s willingness to offer man a New Testament, a new covenant of which a part is the old-new idea of forgiveness. This is a season when we can forgive one another, when the heart warms, when the brightness is brought into the darkness of winter.
These various events around the area give testimony and celebration, entertainment and festivity and even fun to the season of charity and good will to all. Come enjoy this wonderful season, this Holiday, this gift of the winter celebration in various places: mostly through music and some through dance.The Jewish year, too, in its winter, has the celebration of Hanukkah. Note the YouTube video below of Pacific BoyChoir’s singing a Hanukkah song in this article. Nonetheless, for the record, one noted member of Jewish Reform Temple El-Emanuel’s staff recommends a comedy event whichKung Pao spokeswoman says of the comedy Kung Pao event in describing it, “That’s what my event is all about. Escaping Christmas, enjoying comedy, a sense of belonging at a time that is alienating for many…” Please find these paragraph’s of text recommending places to go worthwhile and helpful in the season this year, Christmas 2009.
San Francisco Theological Seminary
In a Press Notice, this writer learned of an excellent place for musical celebration, San Francisco Theological Seminary’s (SFTS) 35th annual Lessons & Carols service Friday, Dec. 4, and Saturday Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. in Stewart Memorial Chapel on the San Anselmo campus. The candlelight service observes Advent’s time of preparation and the coming of the Christ Child. It is not only a longstanding tradition among SFTS faculty, staff and students. The Notice continues: This year’s theme comes from Luke 1:30-31: The angel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High …” Admission is free, but there will be a freewill offering. Everyone is welcome, but seating is limited, so SFTS encourages those planning to attend to arrive early. Shuttle van service will be available.
Doctor Daniel Hoggatt, Musical Director of the program, speaks to this year’s event: “This Lessons & Carols used to be more a seminary community event, but in the last 13 years it has been more the Seminary’s gift to the community. “There are 8 lessons and accompanied Carols by the congregation and choir. “There is also the wonderful Dobbins Memorial Pipe Organ (Balcom Vaughan) that is in Stewart Chapel. Stewart Chapel is usually used for services four times a week. I am very, very fortunate here to be the musician at SFTS because we have two beautiful chapels.” Doctor Hoggatt explains: It is a service that people come to whether Christian or not because it is a wonderful way to kick off the Christmas season with a warm evening. I have Jewish friends, Buddhist friends, and it is a wonderful, magical evening for all. It is a choir of 30 voices that come from the seminary community, and the community at large in southern Marin County. We do a variety of Carols from over 2,000 year history. Doctor. Daniel Hoggatt made the choices.
Nutcracker at San Francisco Ballet
Nutcracker comes alive one hour prior to curtain as costumed characters greet and have their pictures taken with children and families. Plus, the first 500 children to arrive receive a special gift! At intermission, everyone will be treated to juice and cookies. So says San Francisco Ballet website. The Ballet touts: A wonderful Christmas event, Create Magical Memories This holiday season, you and your loved ones deserve something special – a wondrous experience that evokes joy & elevates your spirit to new heights. Whether continuing a valued tradition or discovering the magic of this beloved holiday classic for the first time – San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker is sure to leave you with a sense of warmth and treasured memories that will last a lifetime.
Nutcracker Story ACT 1 In his shop on a foggy Christmas Eve, a toy maker, Drosselmeyer, puts the finishing touches on a magical nutcracker, a gift for his relatives, the Stahlbaum family, whose home he will visit that evening. Customers drop by, searching for last-minute Christmas gifts. Outside the Stahlbaum house, as people hurry home to their Christmas revelries, Drosselmeyer arrives with his beautifully wrapped gift. In the sitting room of the Stahlbaum house, a tree trimming is under way. Clara and Fritz, followed by their friends, arrive downstairs to see the tree lighted, for the very first time in their lives, by electric lights! The children dance with glee. Soon it is time to open gifts. As the children settle down to play with their presents, Dr. Stahlbaum invites his guests to dance. Clara joins the adults. Drosselmeyer—”Uncle Drosselmeyer” to the Stahlbaums—arrives and entertains the families with magic. While Clara remains captivated by the dolls, Fritz makes a pest of himself. Uncle Drosselmeyer opens his specially wrapped gift for the family and presents to them the magical nutcracker doll. Clara, delighted, dances with the nutcracker. Fritz looks on with envy, then grabs the nutcracker, which falls and breaks. Uncle Drosselmeyer bandages the doll and returns it to Clara, who plays with it quietly. As a close to the evening’s festivities, the revered Stahlbaum Grandparents begin their annual holiday dance. All join in. The hour is late, and the guests begin their goodbyes. Fritz and Clara go upstairs to their bedrooms, and the house quiets down. Soon, Clara descends the steps, searching for her nutcracker doll. As the clock strikes 12, she settles on the sofa and falls asleep with the doll in her arms. As Clara dreams, her mind whirls with the memories of the evening. Deep within her dream, Uncle Drosselmeyer appears and mends the nutcracker doll. Clara wakens into her dream, and her house begins to change around her. The Christmas tree grows large and wondrous. Then mice appear, frightening Clara. But magically, her nutcracker doll fends off the mice. The Nutcracker summons the toy soldiers from the cupboard, and a battle ensues. The fierce Mouse King arrives and engages in a duel with the Nutcracker. Clara bravely aids the Nutcracker, who, though victorious, is overcome by exhaustion from the battle. Clara is worried, but Uncle Drosselmeyer consoles her, then transforms the Nutcracker into a dashing Prince. Clara and the Prince embark together on a magical journey through the Land of Snow. The Snow King and Snow Queen arrive and welcome Clara and the Prince. As snow continues to fall, snowflakes begin to dance. The King and Queen invite Clara and the Prince into the sleigh and send them off to their next adventure. ACT 2 The scene opens in the garden of a Crystal Palace where ladybugs, dragonflies, and butterflies dance. The Sugar Plum Fairy welcomes Clara and the Prince and asks them to tell her about their adventure that brought them to her world. The Prince recounts his tale of war with the Mouse King and describes Clara’s bravery. The Sugar Plum Fairy commands a festival, filled with dancing, to honor her guests. The celebration begins with Spanish flair. Exotic Arabians, whirling dancers from China, and lovely French Mirlitons perform for the guests. Sharing in the festivities are Russian entertainers and the famous Madame Du Cirque, who reveals many small surprises, including a dancing bear! In the final celebratory dance, the Sugar Plum Fairy joins in a glorious waltz with her court of flowers, dazzling Clara and the Prince. As the festivities