Sunday, January 2, 2011

Seasonal Thoughts

It's barely still the 9th day of Christmas as I write this.

Throughout Advent, the season of hope and expectation, I've wondered what I was hoping for, what I was expecting.

Then, on Christmas day (one of them, anyway---it may have been the second day of Christmas) someone wished me a Christmas full of wonder. Now I've been wondering what I wonder at.

The year 2010 sort of bruised me up a bit. I don't think I've let on to people around me just how much. They know some things, not everything, or not the extent of everything if they do know. And I'm cryptic and vague about it even now, so how could anyone know? Well, I whine enough as it is and I'm afraid if I talked about all the ways I've felt bruised this year, I'd just sound whinier. No one likes a whiner. Especially me.

But here's what I hoped for and expected through advent: While I'm in a rough patch, I'll not always be here. I've been in rough patches (some rougher) and they pass. I hope and expect that I'll not be bruised forever, that there will---once again---be healing and restoration and joy. As is the way with our faith, it already is here and not yet. But I hope for it and expect it. We profess a faith in a God who will bind up the brokenhearted.

And here's the wonder of Christmas. Incarnation. We have a meaty faith. There is flesh on the bones of this creed and we are the flesh that carries it forward. It's so hard sometimes, when the flesh is bruised (literally or metaphorically) and there are so many ways that the Body of Christ is bruised and hurting. The wonder of Christmas has been seeing that so often the bruises come from the very people who bring healing. Like me. The wonder of Christmas is that I can find myself as the incarnation of so many parts of the gospel stories. I am Herod wanting to protect my own power and I am the wise men who thwart power's machinations. I am the one who tries to throw Jesus off a cliff and I am the one who washes his feet with tears. I am the one flogging Jesus as well as carrying his cross. I am Mary Magdalene running to tell everyone Jesus is risen and I'm Thomas refusing to believe.

I cry out "Rabouni!" and "My lord and my God!"

The bruised and broken Body of Christ teaches me about bruises and breaks. Sometimes I touch the wounds and recognize the One I've followed all these years.

It's now 2011. It's so arbitrary to have this mark on the calendar for us to resolve to do differently, if not better. It is, after all, just another mark on the calendar. Any other day would do. (If you asked Martin Luther, he would say everyday is made for resolution---although he called it "repentance.") Still, there is something in our human nature that likes these marks on the calendars, these clear demarcations of "that was then, this is now." Bono once told us "Nothing changes on New Year's Day," and to an extent he was right. On the other hand, we have some choice in the matter. Don't we?

I'm rambling, I know, as I am want to do in my blogging. I really didn't have a plan when I sat down to write. I just knew I wanted to write during this season of wonder and incarnation. If you get something out of it---count it a Christmas miracle.

As for me, I'm going to bed, remembering 2010, with all its bruises, was then. 2011 is now.

God still binds up the brokenhearted. And we still cry out Rabouni! and My Lord and my God! We say Merry Christmas! and watch for resurrection.


  1. Thanks Neil for this beautiful and thoughtful meditation. I needed it this morning.

    Heidi B Good

  2. Your post leaves me without words on the subject of feeling broken and bruised. Probably because I hope to offer words of comfort and have none. But, I am left with thoughts that your reflections are meaningful...not whining as you may think.