“So I’ve been at this Christianity lark for ten months now. The first eight months or so were all about the run up to Lent and Easter—Christmas is fine, Christmas is all jolly, except for the long shadow of events to come—Easter, I was worried about Easter. But I got through that and . . . gleep. It’s like looking up from picking your way down a very narrow stony path with a chasm on one side and dragons on the other and realising that it’s not just dragons and bottomless ravines but you’re lost in a universe-sized jungle AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHERE YOU’RE GOING. Where does the narrow stony path go? Is that where you want to go? Is there a beautiful sunset and a cup of tea at the end of it or a larger dragon?” Robin McKinley’s Faith Journey!!! LOVE FANTASY AND FAITH” from http://robinmckinleysblog.com/2013/07/24/microsoft-outlook-and-spiritual-direction/
Anne Lamott · 91,543 like this
10 minutes ago ·
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it although this time, or at least right now, it has come very close. My pastor talks often about our dual citizenship, as children of God, and Goodness, gorgeous and divine, and we are also people with human biographies and wounds and families, living in a world of unimaginable suffering, brutality, madness.
We are lighthouses of sacred love, and we are a violent species; Cain is still killing Abel.
What do we do today? Where do we even start? I wish there was a site called, Our Plan for the Next Few Days, in the face of Newtown. I can’t find it, but I’ve realized a few things and remembered a few things, and have decided to share them.
Is it okay to stayed glued to the TV? Yes, if you need to. Is it okay not to watch any TV, and just do exactly what we had planned? Yes; anything you are doing, thinking, blocking, to get through these days, is okay. Do we go ahead with our plans to make gingerbread houses with our little ones? Of course. Do we make another visit to a seemingly uncomprehending relative at the convalescent home? Of course. Do we go through our neighborhood today picking up little, even as we know that there will be more tomorrow? Of course? Do we plant bulbs in the cold rocky crummy earth? Always! Do we light candles? Again–always.
I also remembered a conversion I had with my Jesuit friend Tom Weston during a bleak, cold, excruciating Advent day, three years ago, that I wrote up inSome Assembly Required. Here is some of what we talked about, which I am finding helpful today:
Where, I asked that day in 2009, in such despair and chaos, is Advent?
He tried to wiggle out of it by saying, “You Protestants and your little questions!”
Then he said: “Faith is a decision. Do we believe we are ultimately doomed and fucked and there’s no way out? Or that god and goodness makes a difference? There is heaven, community and hope—and hope that there is life beyond the grave.”
“But Tom, at the same time, the grave is very real, dark and cold and lonely.”
“Advent is not for the naïve. Because in spite of the dark and cold, we see light—you look up, or you make light, with candles, trees. And you give light. Beauty helps, in art and nature and faces. Friends help. Solidarity helps. If you ask me, when people return phone calls, it’s about as good as it gets. And who knows beyond that.”
Anne Lamont on her Facebook Page
“That’s What Christmas is all about Charlie Brown” last night, in the face of tragedy, we put on Charlie Brown Christmas to 60 people. Many of them children: children who laughed at Snoopy, marvelled at Linus’ blanket, and tried to tell Charlie Brown where to get his tree “It’s over there!” It was a moment of innocence and hope. With all of Charlie Brown’s searching for hope it is ultimately understand Christmas “and the angels were singing Glory to God in the highest and on earth Peace and Goodwill toward Man.” Charlie Brown who is so often mistreated and depressed is able to be “Christmassed” (yes that is the verb for feeling the true meaning of Christmas–and it often sneaks up on you). And because Charlie Brown found hope in Christ, I did too…I also went through his hopelessness, his loneliness–ending in the sad, dead tree being alone on the stage. But, then the heavenly voice came down, then Angels started to sing about the glory of God. And when hope seemed to be God, the tree was resurrected, decorated and brought back in all of its glory. If a tree can be resurrected then surely brave teachers, small children here and in China can be too!
Merry Christmas Charlie Brown.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers
Hopefully we too can be part of the helpers
First off, I love my advent calendar this year, it is animals as the manger scene and often the door opens up to a song cue (I mean how cool is that). However, Mary is a Cat, Joseph is a Dog and Jesus is a mouse. I find this theologically hilarious! This must mean God is a mouse. YEESSSS!
In a devious plan to do ministry, I convinced my session to put forth the money to sponsor a performance of “Charlie Brown Christmas.” Although we are not the first church to do it as a show, we may be the first ones to do it as a Food Drive (maybe laying the groundwork for years to come?). We are taking in cans and donations for a food pantry
After much agonizing over the casting (ie I don’t know where the theater people live yet) we finally have a cast! Anyway we read through the play and are now working on character development (which is so totally THEOLOGY disguised as analysis HA)
We explored Charlie Brown’s search for the meaning of Christmas. Its not that he doesn’t know what Christmas is about, but that he can’t feel it alone…and in the lack of all his companions feeling it (ie commercialism) means that he has nowhere to grasp onto it.
For 3 years in seminary I worked at a Psychiatric Hospital. When I was there I did assessments, and during these assessments we would ask if the patient had hope (since hope helps recovery). Many patients said that they didn’t have hope….but they were hoping for it. Hoping for Hope! That is, what I think Charlie Brown is doing.
In fact, I believe that is why we need the church, to be a placeholder for those times we don’t feel hope or love or faith. If we don’t have the wherewithall to do it, the community does it for us until we are ready!
Anyway, if you notice, Charlie Brown is looking for that feeling. Watch Charlie Brown Christmas, where is the first place he goes after he confesses to his depression? That’s right smart people, his mailbox. He is searching for some kind of connection.
In fact, I think the reason why Charlie Brown agrees to direct the play is because Lucy tells him she would help him giving him some sense of direction…the problem being that even in the midst of the crowd, Charlie Brown is ignored, unnoticed and worst of all lonely
In fact, anyone who struggles with depression or is dealing with a loss knows that there is this kind of loneliness that can be felt in the crowd. Some churches are starting to hold “quiet Christmas” or “Blue Christmas” services for those people who don’t in fact enjoy the holidays, but want some place to be emotionally present in the season.
This is not just a problem for people who are in sad circumstances…In fact, in this day and age loneliness often looks like business–between social media and work running around like crazy we are all too busy for Christmas. This loneliness, however, is part of what Christ came to deal with. Christ came to be Emmanuel–God with us–so we would never have to be alone again.
It is only thru a personal connection fasciliated by the love of Christ (yes I’m talking about the famous “That’s what Christmas is all about speech”) followed by some quiet time of real contemplation (one might even call it prayer) that Charlie Brown is able to realize the meaning of Christmas.
The meaning of which was meaningless, until all of his friends connected with him as well!
And that, my friends, is what Christmas is all about
So if you are in the Albany, NY area Dec 14 & 15 @6pm and Dec 16 @4pm come down to New Covenant Presbyterian at 916 Western Ave–and share with us the true meaning of Christmas!