During the Twelve Days of Christmas, just as in the Advent season, I am going to reflect on a hymn or carol daily as part of my spiritual practices. I am not sure where all these reflections will take me, but in conversation with my spiritual director, I am going to leave room for both “the head stuff” and “the heart stuff.” Some days might be more of one or another. I invite you to join me, as together we make space to listen, and be present, to sense what God might be up to.
Merry Seventh Day of Christmas! This morning on the First Sunday of Christmas and on New Year’s Eve, there really is only one Christmas carol that seems perfectly appropriate, “Cold December Flies Away.” It’s below zero here in Nebraska this morning. The forecast says it should stay that way all day today and likely most (or even all) of tomorrow. Factor in the wind chills, and well, you get the picture.
Cold December flies away at the rose red splendor.
April’s crowning glory breaks while the whole world wonders
at the holy unseen power of the tree which bears the flower.
On the blessed tree blooms the reddest flower.
On the tree blooms the rose here in love’s own garden,
full and strong in glory.
Today is also the last day of 2017. What a strange year it has been. In terms of family, there have been milestone birthdays galore. Allison and I finally went on our honeymoon to start the year. And to end the year, we’re excited (and perhaps a little terrified) for the growing family we are a part of. In terms of society, well, it has been a strange year too. In terms of ministry, vocation, and work, it has been a great year of learning, growing, and doing, and I look forward to much more of that in the year ahead.
In the hopeless time of sin shadows deep had fallen.
All the world lay under death. Eyes were closed in sleeping.
But, when all seemed lost in night, came the sun whose golden
light brings unending joy, brings the endless joy of our hope,
highest hope, of our hope’s bright dawning,
Son beloved of heaven.
The past year has been a hard one- in terms of watching things happen in society and leadership that are against my beliefs and values, and the beliefs and values I believe shape who we are as citizens, humans, and Children of God. Despite this, I am grateful for all of the new relationships and communities that I have been a part of in 2017, and I hope that 2018 builds on the positives. I hope that it is a year of building bridges and connections between people, communities, congregations, viewpoints and perspectives. I hope that it is a year of coming together and collaboration.
Now the bud has come to bloom, and the world awakens.
In the lily’s purest flower dwells a wondrous fragrance.
And it spreads to all the earth from the moment of its birth;
and its beauty lives. In the flower it lives,
in the flower, and it spreads in its heavenly brightness
sweet perfume delightful.
As 2017 draws to a close, and 2018 knocks at the door, may we all commit ourselves to listening a bit more intentionally. May we strive to take time to be, and to ask and wonder, what might God be up to? I hope to do these things, and I hope to find the time even while also discovering what life as a parent might be like, along with all of the other parts of life.
Credit/Reference: “Cold December Flies Away,” Catalonian carol, tr. Howard Hawhee; found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 299.