Christmas is not quite over. Remember, when we follow a different calendar we listen to a different story. The story of Christ incarnated, crucified and resurrected. The story of Christ with us introducing the Kingdom of God.
“To celebrate Christmas on Jan. 3, when we are all returning back to work, is a most basic act of civil disobedience, a simple act of justice, a spiritual discipline. To celebrate Christmas when others are rushing into the false hope of a new year is a reminder that our time is precious and should be savored rather than offered for sale. To continue to celebrate Christmas when it is already being forgotten is to begin to wake from the fog of consumerism to the new reality of the birth of Christ and the Reign of God.
To celebrate Christmas today is to begin to squeeze ourselves and our camels through the needle’s eye.” – David R. Henson
I urge you to read the rest of David’s blogpost at: The Christian Calendar as Civil Disobedience
HT: John Carter
O inexpressible mystery and unheard-of paradox;
the Invisible is seen;
the Intangible is touched;
the Eternal Word becomes accessible to our speech;
the Timeless steps into time;
the Son of God becomes the Son of Man.
– Gregory of Nyssa
“Gracious and eternal Lord, in your bounty you have sent us your Holy Spirit. May he teach us to think and do what is right, so that we, who without you cannot exist, may live in loving obedience to your will.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”
What finally helped me was an image from a medieval monk, Brother Lawrence, who saw all of us as trees in winter, with little to give, stripped of leaves and color and growth, whom God loves unconditionally, anyway. My priest friend Margaret, who works with the aged and who shared this image with me, wanted me to see that even though these old people are no longer useful in any traditional meaning of the word, they are there to be loved unconditionally, like trees in winter. (from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird)
Lent begins in the winter months. In our contemporary, climate controlled, always on world, the cold wintry beginning of Lent has some effect on our mood toward the ceremony. Winter, in spite of its austere beauty and the winter fun that many enjoy, is still a season of death, dormancy. It is the latent season.
Ash Wednesday is all about death.
We need to be reminded about death… we need to become acquainted with failure… we need to be OK with the fact that humility is our native posture, gratitude is our most basic discipline. Each to be engaged in with every breath.
So we pray the prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
And we smudge the greasy sign of the cross on one another’s foreheads: “from dust you have come and from dust you will return”.
We ease back into our place, once again, after months of triumph and patting one another on the back, taking joy in our accomplishments and, from our perspective, rightful pride in our experience. We regain our place—our low and humble place.
The winter is the best time to do this. Forced to be reflective by shorter days, by cold and inclement weather. Anticipating the future we wait by returning to the place where we belong–at Jesus’ feet. At the foot of his cross.
It’s here that we are loved once again not for what we are, nor for what we could be and certainly not for what we do but simply because we are. Brittle and fruitless.
Like trees in winter.
We are exiles in the far end of solitude, living as listeners,
With hearts attending to the skies we cannot understand:
Waiting upon the first far drums of Christ the Conqueror,
Planted like sentinels upon the world’s frontier.
- Thomas Merton
This is an excerpt from a special that was on PBS about alzheimer’s disease and the care of those who are stricken with it. There is much to learn here about helping one another through all kinds of challenges in life most of which are much less tragic and daunting than dementia.
As we help those we love who suffer, struggle or hurt, what do we really have to offer them? What does the incarnation have to teach us? (John 1:14)
As we journey through Lent together and as we think about our own Pilgrimage let these prayers be both helpers and friends to us:
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: grant your people grace to love what you have commanded and desire what you promise; that among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
- from the Book of Common Prayer