Christmas Isn’t Over Yet!
What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the Son of God fourteen hundred years ago and I do not also give birth to the Son of God in my time and in my culture?We are all meant to be Mothers of God.-Meister Eckhart (15th century German mystic)
Advent was a season of waiting, paying attention, anticipating the birth of Messiah. I wondered why we said “Come, Lord Jesus” when clearly Christ has already come and promises to live in us. So what were we waiting for? Why invite Jesus to “come?”
Eckhart reminds us that we celebrate Christmas as the time God became flesh and dwelt among us in the messiness of our lives. The miracle is on-going as we continue to give birth to God in our lives. In renewal and birth, something new is created after months of incubation and anticipation.
Just as Mary said “yes” to God’s angel, we are called to welcome divine creativity within ourselves—nurturing and cultivating the character of God. In being fully our true selves and consenting to God’s transformation, we are participating in the birth of God in our world today.
Come, Lord Jesus…
We usually think of Christmas as a single day on the calendar, followed up with holiday sales and clearing all the holiday clutter from our homes as soon as possible. Consider a new practice this year. Epiphany is celebrated on January 6, falling on the twelfth day after Christmas. The word means “revelation” and in Western Christianity it is commonly linked with the visit of the wise men (Magi) to the Christ child.
When our children were young, instead of packing away the nativity set, we left it out until Epiphany. At the beginning of Advent, the children would place the wise men with their camels as far away from the stable as possible (usually an upstairs closet.) Then gradually, day by day, they were moved closer and closer until they arrived on Epiphany to join Mary and Joseph and complete the Bethlehem story.
Rather than rushing on past Christmas, be open to ways that God may yet be speaking to you. How can you create opportunities for holy birthing in this season of Epiphany?
SUGGESTED PRACTICES FOR THE SEASON OF EPIPHANY
(Christine Valters Paintner: http://abbeyofthearts.com)
January 2: Choose one practice to focus on for the year ahead, something that will help support you in creating space for your own continued holy birthing. The practice might be to do less of something—like watching TV—and to do more of something—like spending time in silence.
January 3: Consider choosing a spiritual teacher for the year. We live in a world with an abundance of choices and possibilities. Sometimes diving deep with one thing or idea is just what our heart needs to deepen. Perhaps it is Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas Merton, or the poet Rilke. Read everything you can about them, and let them be a companion through the year ahead, a midwife to your own holy birth.
January 4: Find a journal, bless it as a container for all of your sacred and holy dreams. Leave it out and every time you find yourself dreaming about a possibility, spend just five minutes writing about it. Let yourself follow the sacred threads leading you ahead.
January 5: Pray lectio divina with this passage from Jeremiah 6:16—”Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” Listen for the ancient paths calling you forward.
January 6—Feast of Epiphany
Let a word for the year ahead choose you. In ancient times, wise men and women, called ammas and abbas, fled out into the desert to find a place where they could be fully present to God and to their own inner struggles at work within them. The desert became a place to enter into the refiner’s fire and be stripped down to one’s holy essence. The desert was a threshold place from which men and women emerged different from when they entered.
Many people followed these ammas and abbas, seeking their wisdom and guidance for a meaningful life. One tradition was to ask for a word – this word or phrase would be something on which to ponder for many days, weeks, months, sometimes a whole lifetime. This practice is connected to lectio divina, where we approach the sacred texts with the same request – “give me a word” we ask – something to nourish me, challenge me, a word I can wrestle with and grow into.
My personal “words” over the past three years have been Trust / Freedom / Hope. Write down your word and tell others. It would be a blessing to me and others if you would share your word and what it means to you in the comments section below.
Merry (all 12 days of) Christmas!