The Rev. Liz Embler-Beazley
Mtr. Liz is the Associate for Congregational Development at St. Paul's
Please forgive me, but sometimes I roll my eyes when I hear the line "It's the hap-happiest season of all!" Our culture makes giant efforts to put forth a façade of incessant joy and cheer, and sometimes it's all a bit much. Now, before I am accused of resembling a grouchy Dickens (or even a green Seussical) character, perhaps I'm not the only one who feels this way.
In the midst of the beautiful lights, we are all hurrying around with a long "to-do" list. It's the end of our calendar year, and many of us have projects we need to finish up, reports that need to be written, and all of the normal day-to-day deliverables still need to be... well, delivered. To the tune of catchy seasonal music, we're filling up shopping carts (both online and in-person) with specialty items and gifts for our loved ones, all the while trying to maintain a budget and cover the normal life expenses in an economy struggling with inflation. Surrounded by mountains of delicious baked goods, we attend and host parties that require lots of planning, decorating, and organizing for family and friends who may or may not be easy to be around. And all the while we try to keep ourselves and our loved ones well from the RSV/Flu/COVID storm swirling around us. The holidays are also a time of deep nostalgia for many. For some it can be a time of loneliness and loss. For many, tt's a time when we remember our loved ones who are no longer with us and we recall the many memories attached to this time, whether they are happy or not.
I hope reading that didn't ruin any holly or jolly you had left for this season. While much of these activities and events can hold joy, I believe it's important to recognize that reality is not always bright lights and Christmas cookies. Sometimes the most wonderful time of the year is also the busiest and most over-loaded time of the year as well. While the rest of the world wants to rush right on through the busyness to Christmas, in the church we hold tight to the season of preparation before Christmas. Slowly taking our time over four weeks to get our hearts and souls and minds ready for great Feast of Christmas. So if you find yourself needing to slow down and refocus on something else, know that you're not alone and that we're holding quiet, sacred space for you in the sanctuary. Come and sit, rest and pray, so you can remember that God became human, sanctifying our mortal flesh, so that we would know and experience deep and abiding joy.