Hey there Shadow Rock beloveds. It’s the Monday before Christmas. As I drove from home to SR this morning, it was pretty quiet. The usual school traffic just outside my neighborhood and near Thunderbird High was gone. I pulled into the nearly empty parking lot (no preschoolers today!) with the usual deep breath I take when I enter our campus.
Because we’ll close up the office until the new year later this week, worship planning has moved on– from Advent to Christmas to Epiphany. For me, the wonder and awe of Epiphany (from the visitation of the Magi to the everyday revelation of Spirit) are an inoculation against Post-Holiday Blues. In 2023, we’re spending Epiphany learning and stretching together, focused on prayer. Prayer and its sister practices of meditation, silence, and contemplation are intensely personal. As I prepare for our time together in formation and worship, here are the resources I’m looking toward for guidance and encouragement.
- Joyce Rupp‘s Prayer Seeds
- Deepening Our Prayer
- Learning to Pray by James Martin, SJ
- Seeking Wisdom (an Artist’s Way book) by Julia Cameron
The days between Christmas and New Year’s Day are often liminal space… a liinger-y door way between years. It’s my prayer that you find rest and grace in that time.
Have you ever noticed how many popular Christmas songs have the words, “once again,” or “once more?”
The first recorded acknowledgement of Christmas as the celebration of Christ’s birth was in 335 CE. So, friends, we’ve been doing this Christmas thing for a long, long time. There’s a certain weariness to our celebrations, depending on our social location, age, and family circumstances.
If you’re feeling the weight of “Christmas magic” in a different way this year, that’s OK. Be encouraged by the nostalgia and melancholy of these songs. Sometimes it’s difficult to put on our Christmas persona for ourselves and for others. Sometimes the joy of the season is hard to find.
Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Sometimes, compassion and joy don’t just shine out of us. Sometimes, even the best of us need to clothe ourselves with compassion – to “put on joy” like a garment. Sometimes by the grace of the Spirit, as we’re going through the motions of Christmas celebration, the joy returns.
Rest, beloveds. Rest – and then rest some more. Whether you’re feeling the joy of the season or not so much, you are enough just as you are.
PS the idea for this post emerged from a theological / philosophical / pastoral conversation between me (Karen, your intrepid webmaster) and Pastor Ken. We really do talk about spiritual stuff, even when there’s no one else around.
Shadow Rock United Church of Christ
12861 N. 8th Avenue | Phoenix, AZ 85029
Rev. Ken Heintzelman, Senior Minister
Church Office Hours:
Monday-Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.