It has been far too long!
I have been chastising myself for not writing and posting on our website. It has been a rough couple of months-Type A flu! Now that I am beginning to feel somewhat like myself-heaven help us all-I promise myself to write and post more.
We are quickly approaching the season of Lent and I often am asked, "What are you giving up for Lent?" My response varies from year to year. I do not as a rule give up anything because I can't quite equate Jesus in the wilderness for forty days with not eating chocolate. It jars my sensibilities and for me makes light of a serious season. What I try to do, and some years I am more successful than others, is to add something to my daily routine of spiritual substance. I have not quite decided yet what that will be; but I will post it Ash Wednesday and write about it everyday.
In the meantime, I invite you to think about what it is you want for your Lenten discipline. Send me a comment. I am interested in knowing more.
The Word Draws Near
Tonight millions of people will gather in churches and cathedrals the world over to once again celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Some will come because they want to; others will come because of tradition; and still others because it is expected by family. The church will have been decorated by the Flower Guild and the choir will have rehearsed the anthems and special music for the service. Clergy feel the pressure to deliver a message which offers hope in darkness and speaks to all.
As the rector of my beloved church what I want for everyone who enters the doors of St. Thomas tonight is to remember one thing: God loves you. God loves you enough to send his son to be one of you. God loves you enough to want to understand what it means to be human with all of your wonder and yes your imperfections. In fact, he loves because of those imperfections. This is the God I have come to know over the course of my adult life.
I read quite a bit about how some feel the Church is judging them or making them feel less than. I beg to differ because this is not the Church I know and love. The Church I know says to everyone, "Enter in and rest awhile. Draw near to us." The Christmas story is not just about a birth, it is about the birth of God to people of no account. People who really were the nothings of the ancient world: no power, no wealth, no education. Roughed up by Rome and look down on by the authorities. Who hasn't felt like that at some point in his or her life. I know I have. What I take great comfort in is that God cares enough about us to want to become us.
In the Old Testament he is the God of smoke and fire. I would have to imagine that kind of God is kind of fun-for awhile. But then God realized it was no good to be feared. It is better to come alongside someone and to care about them. To be an on the ground witness to the messy humanity he himself created. What I believe God really wanted was to understand us and what better way than to become us.
My favorite Christmas carol is "O little town of Bethlehem" and each year a different verse becomes important for me. This year it is, "the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight." It is quite a bit of pressure to put on a baby, but this baby will grow up to be the savior and redeemer of the world. I am thankful to have him in my life and as a light to the world.
Wherever you are in your faith's journey, I pray you go to church tonight and allow "God to impart on your human heart, the blessings of His Heav'n."(italics mine)
It is hard to believe that Christmas is less than two weeks away. For some the holidays are filled with magic and happy times. For others this is not necessarily true. Death, divorce, family far away or family estrangement as well as feelings of perfection can crowd in and really affect our moods. This year St. Thomas will again have a Blue Christmas service December 21st at 7pm. It is a time when we can come together and realize that we are not alone and also that there is a place to feel those less than Christmas feelings.
It is a quiet service of scripture, prayer, music and readings. Over the years as one who has been less than joyful at Christmas time, I have found great comfort in the quiet and contemplation. If you have not been to a Blue Christmas service I highly recommend it, even if it is just to pause and spend time in silence with other people who feel as you do. I have been leading Blue Christmas services over the past ten years and people have been grateful to be able to share how they really feel and not put on a happy face all the time.
What I love is how the readings and prayers give comfort at a time when I am less than comfortable. Please join us if you are in the area-all are welcome.