Thursday, January 20, 2011
The Preacher’s Corner
Holidays, while fun, often lead to chaos
Are you one of those people who are glad when the holidays are finally over? I am. I do not imply that either you or I am so churlish as to resist all times of celebration and gladness, but I like a routine!
As regular readers will note, this column has been absent from your South Reporter because somehow I got thrown off schedule during the holidays and could not (or did not) find time to write it. When I do anything that requires effort, I find that I need time to anticipate it, time to do it, and time to get over it. I also realize that this necessity seems more urgent as I grow older.
For me, the period from Thanksgiving through New Year’s comes as an interruption to my usual winter routine. In many ways it is a joyful interruption. But an interruption. There are different things to do. Extra things. Often fun things. But there are often sad things, and when the sad things pop up, it somehow seems harder to face them because it is “the holidays.” With all these different, extra, and often challenging things happening, it doesn’t take much for me to be thrown off course. This was one of the years that happened for me.
I realized that I am not the only person who suffers from this tendency when I heard a young minister say that, even though she is a member of the clergy, she was so busy this year tending to church things, that she had not had a chance to send a single Christmas card, set up a Christmas tree or put out her little manger scene at home. She was contemplating this on December 26, and decided to go ahead and put out her manger scene and celebrate “the twelve days of Christmas.”
Christmas is one of those unusual times that has “extra days” at the end. Our commercial society celebrates the holiday by anticipation, but the “real” Christmas holidays are the twelve days from December 26 to January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, that celebrates the arrival of the three wise men. I find that if you take advantage of this, you can get most of your holiday duties done!
Still, I find the resumption of a regular routine comforting, and am glad now to slip back into the calendar of the everyday. Someone is sure to say, “How dull!” But how would we recognize the spontaneous and the exciting if we did not have a workday existence with which to compare the surprising and unexpected? I suppose you could live in such a way that everything strikes you as unexpected, but that would seem to me a pattern of chaos and unpredictability, which for Presbyterians, at least, would be highly disconcerting!
I like to say my prayers on Sunday, do the laundry on Monday, pay my bills on Tuesday, buy groceries on Thursday, and eat catfish on Friday! I do not like it when the postman does not run, or the trash pickup is delayed, or friends are not at home to chat on the telephone at the usual time.
Yes, I am hopelessly set in my ways. But I like having my “ways,” and I find in these ordinary habits and their regularity a certain comforting, guiding reflection of the “truth and the life” that I find in our Lord, who gives meaning and direction to even the most ordinary aspects of our living. That is an extended meaning of divine grace and redemption, and I find it a very hopeful thing indeed.
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