Saturate in Good Tidings of Great Joy
Beloved in Christ,
I’ve long felt that one of the most under-valued spiritual practices of our tradition is a close attention to the rhythms of the church’s calendar. Far from archaic and complex rules about feasts, fasts, saints days and all the rest, keeping the calendar orders our lives and tethers us to a rhythm that roots us ever more deeply in the story of Jesus, so that the story of God’s project to heal the world with love becomes the story we participate in every day. Over time, it shapes our days and seasons around the measure of God’s grace.
I particularly love keeping the full twelve days of Christmas. If we adopt the secular practice of limiting Christmas to one day, we underplay the significance of what it means that the God who created the entire universe chose to be born among the poorest and most forgotten in the world, and in that truth is where we find the freedom our souls so deeply long for. Twelve days of celebration invite us to savor what that means and saturate ourselves in those good tidings of great joy.
These twelve days are packed with their own feast days, which help us unpack what it means to follow the one who always comes among the forgotten, poor, and oppressed. The grim commemoration of Holy Innocents, where Herod killed all the male children under two years old as a way of trying to eliminate the threat to his kingship, reminds us that the gospel is always a threat to the established orders and powers of the world. The martyrdom of St. Stephen brings to mind that for much of Christian history, and indeed in many places around the world at this moment, publicly following the way of Jesus poses a constant threat to one’s very life. And on January 1, while much of the world observes a secular new year, we are invited to reflect on the Holy Name of Jesus, “God saves,” and remember at the dawn of a new year that true hope isn’t found in our resolutions and willpower, but in the power of his name alone.
Christmas lasts until we celebrate the Epiphany this Friday. In these coming days, I hope you will find small ways to celebrate and rejoice. Eat something you love, do something small and kind for someone you love best, extend more grace toward yourself and your mistakes than you normally do. Find some way, every day, to remember that God is always being born into the small, forgotten places, out in the world and in your own heart. Good news.
Grace and peace,
The Right Reverend Craig Loya