Sunday, January 2, 2011
Christmas, New Years, Epiphany: Man, I Love a Party!
In some ways, the Christmas season isn't as exciting as when we were children. Some elements of magic and mystery are certainly gone. But in other ways, the knowledge that comes with the wisdom of being older brings an added beauty to the season (And 2011 will bring about my 30th birthday, speaking of getting older. Yipes! You know there will be blogs. It's also on GOOD FRIDAY...you know there will be themes ;)
And let's not also forget that Christmas still means there's a good reason to party ;)
Though the event of Christmas may not be as magical as when we were children, we know that Christmas isn't about magic. It's about a Gift. And that Gift can sometimes be uncomfortable (like when you get socks or an awful jumpsuit or something, but not this year- I got GIFT CARDS 'cause my family is AWESOME! ;) it is ultimately a reason to give thanks and celebrate. The Gift of Life, Love, (er, Liberty? but of course! Jesus= Freedom:)
Christmas gives us a time to celebrate as does the promise of the New Year. I heard a sermon on my way to Mass this morning (that's right- I pregame sermons WITH sermons! I'm an overachiever) on (surprisingly) a secular station that was talking about how at New Years we celebrate because we have new expectations. And we delight in- almost as we did as children at Christmas- at the "magic" of what God could possibly do for us this year.
But we all KNOW that God doesn't give us everything we expect/ask. He often throws curve balls and that can make us uncomfortable. But He always gives us what we need at the time.
Really, the only thing we can expect is to become uncomfortable at some point in our year. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but because of our Original Sin, it just happens. And it's not necessarily something super sad or sick or suffering (though those things might happen) but we can expect to be taken out of our comfort zones at some point this year, whether it be a conversation with someone or something more dramatic like a change at work or relationships. The only promise we can really expect God to keep is that He will help to make us the best woman or man we can be. And sometimes that hurts.
But this post is about parties!! Today is the feast of the Epiphany. We remember the three wise men arriving to worship the baby they studied and heard about. Theirs was probably not always a comfortable situation. It was a long trip, they were traveling in community (can you imagine how many "are we there yets?" Ugh. I can't.), were probably wondering if there really was anything under that star anyway, and how would the news of what they found change them.
Plus, they were men of wealth and power. They didn't go to babies, they made babies come to THEM? Right?! Yet they humbled themselves and made the long trek on their own. And when they got there, they rejoiced and worshiped a baby who had not yet proven to be as great or as powerful as they. But they went on faith. They made the most out of the situation, out of the journey- and they were pleased with what they found- even if it wasn't what they had expected.
The priest at Mass this morning spoke of Archbishop Fulton Sheen's theory that people are sometimes frightened to go to the manger. We occupy ourselves with so much at Christmas- but do we really approach the manger like the wise men do? With wonder and awe, humility, curiosity? Or do we go with our expectations? Or do we not go at all because we are afraid of what the journey might bring? That the journey is too great or too hard?
That journey to the manger theory, as well as the sermon on expectations and comfort this morning, were good challenges for me in this new year. I really don't have any expectations for 2011. I have some hopes, but I don't know what I'm expecting. I wonder if that's a good thing or not. Maybe I can try to be like the wise men and study, hope, and journey- even without expectation- and just rejoice. Though it is good to expect something from God. I do know I look forward to the end of this month when my spiritual director will lead a retreat for some friends and myself. I expect to be brought out of my comfort zone and challenged that weekend. I also expect to have a little fun :)
What are your reflections on Epiphany? There are so many elements of this feast to think about. It's a shame that often the part of the wise man in the school nativity play gets second fiddle :) I think one year we cut out the shepherds and wise men altogether but somehow had an angel and a donkey...hmm...
Regardless, Epiphany's pretty important. The Christmas season is drawing to a close, but I'm holding on until the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord for one last good week of Christmas celebrating!
Speaking of celebrating, above are some highlights from my Christmas season so far! (You will note in particular my...er, well, highlights... as well as new bangs which are recent features ;)
Above pics: Roommates and I at our annual Christmas Open House, a friend and I out for New Year's Eve, and my new nephew and I on Christmas Day.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!