This year, explore a deeper theology of Christmas

An Advent wreath decorates the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican Dec. 14. (CNS/Paul Haring)
This article appears in the Christmas 2015 feature series. View the full series.

"You've got an odd selection of Christmas stories this year," someone told me as we put this issue together.

"Christmas isn't just Norman Rockwell and pre-Raphaelite nativity scenes," I replied.

I think our story package explores the deeper theology of Christmas: not the nativity but the Incarnation. God has become flesh, and that makes all the difference. Last year, our Christmas editorial noted, "The Incarnation is both pure grace and a work in progress." The work continues.

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In recent weeks, you may have seen our latest reporting venture, which we call "The Field Hospital." The title comes from Pope Francis: "I see the church as a field hospital after battle. … Heal the wounds … [starting] from the ground up."

Inspired by this image of church, the series' aim is to provide reporting about how parish communities are taking the Gospel to the margins and inviting the wounded into the life of the church; it's a "from the pews" reporting initiative.

Two of our best reporters are overseeing The Field Hospital: Peter Feuerherd (, and Dan Morris-Young ( Send them story ideas. 

I should warn you: These aren't all feel-good stories. Like a field hospital, this series includes tragedies and lost causes. But that, too, is the church of the Incarnation.

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My Christmas wish: I want Donald Trump to spend 90 minutes with Fr. Bob McCahill in the room the Maryknoller rents from Jasna sharing biscuits and mango juice and tasting the hospitality that is Jasna's religion. McCahill's ministry of presence has been inspiring NCR readers for 31 years. Its importance couldn't be more evident than this year. You can read his annual Christmas letter online Tuesday.

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