“The thrill is gone.”
Maybe it is the grey cold days after Christmas with the ongoing reality of the pandemic. Maybe I have missed hugs and gatherings too long now. Life is not so thrilling at the moment. Rhythm and Blues Music expresses it so well. B.B. King knew what he was singing about, “the thrill is gone baby. “
Merry Christmas -
The quiet nature of our Christmas festivities has brought me to reflect on my childhood. The Peanuts Christmas Special is something I grew up anticipating and watching every year. Now my children look forward to it as well. One of the things I love about Charles M. Schultz’s creation is the way he told the old story with the contrast of the children’s voices seeking adult spiritual knowledge. You remember, poor Charlie Brown cannot find the meaning of Christmas anywhere; it’s not in the commercials, it is not in perfect relationships, it is not in getting involved with the play, or even in decorating the tree. In the end, Linus his friend reveals the promise of salvation in the gospel of Luke.
The gift of the incarnation is something we receive in an ever deepening way throughout our lives. Our prayer is that Christ will be fully born in our lives. So this morning may you hear as a prayer and a greeting, Merry Christmas!
With you on the journey
Merry Christmas Friends in Christ,
While all of our traditions are disrupted by the pandemic, it does not keep us from joining the spiritual invitation to have a Merry Christmas. The videos in this email have been thoughtfully prepared to include many people in our parish, some of our traditions, and a lot of laughs. For tonight we celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation.
Today I began filming Christmas Eve Worship. I put on my red sweater, we decorated the sanctuary, and I (Josh actually) even carried the advent wreath to the rectory. What are we doing!?
Every team sport, organization and family experiences moments that feel disconnected and disjointed and also rejoices in moments of perfect cooperation. When everyone is singing the same song it feels so good, all together now!
I must have listened to Miles Davis recording, Some Kind of Blue, a million times. It feels like the perfect jazz album. The musicality and emotion pulls me up and out of my self-occupation. I discovered Miles was a great philosopher too, he wrote,
“Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself.”
― Miles Davis
Gratitude is a quality or feeling of being thankful. As a feeling it fades in and out of awareness. As adults we know that as our feelings change, the reasons for gratitude remain constant as the stars, the sun, and oxygen.
Open Your Heart
The fatigue of social distance is strong. I certainly felt it last week in Kansas as I grieved the death of my mother in law. We ended up holding her memorial service on Zoom. The visitation was on Zoom, the burial words on Zoom, even the slideshow of her life was offered on Zoom. It felt distant and wrong. And then, something shifted. One of the names that showed up in the ‘waiting room’ was Bishop Jeff Lee. With one click there was his smiling face, greeting me and our family with an open heart.
It is obvious when you are sick that you need support. We need doctors, medicine, someone to rub our head or bring us chicken soup. When we are supported, we feel better even if we remain sick. This truth became clear while caring for my in-laws in Kansas City last week. I observed them both laughing more the longer we were together, I could see they felt more themselves as they received the support they needed.
It occurs to me that when there is a lack of needed support not only individuals flail, but systems, workers, families, neighborhoods. Can I even say police departments become unhealthy and contentious. We cannot be our best without the proper support. We are learning more than ever about what is needed in neighborhoods and emergency response across our country in the headlines. But my prayer is when the headlines go away, we continue to create healthy supportive society for all.
Routines, habits and disciplines support a sense of calm stability. While in Kansas City, all my routines are upset for the care of my in-laws. Last night, as I fell asleep my last thoughts turned to the still quiet Presence of God, I whispered, “I missed you today.”