Another Covid Christmas was not on my 2021 Bingo Card. In addition to all the craziness raging on in the world, we had an overfilled holiday weekend, leaving me even more exhausted. I am weary. I imagine I am not alone.
In our Family Christmas Eve Zoom, Jane Anne asked a question that is sticking with me: What kept the magi going?
We are now in the season of Christmastide, waiting until Epiphany. In a few short days, the wise men will finally meet Jesus. Especially during these twelve days, I have been meditating on what kept them going.
The baby Jesus was a new king. This birth represented a new political and economic system. They wanted to see this. They wanted to feel this. They wanted to believe this. It’s no longer that hope was coming. Hope arrived. They were going to find Hope.
This is what I am striving to remember as we move towards Epiphany and into 2022. As we partner with God’s redemptive work in the world, we bring wholeness and newness to our systems.
There is hope that things will get better. That kept the magi going, and it will keep me going. I am tired. I am weary. And yet I rejoice in the Hope that is here and still yet to come.
Weeping may tarry in the evening, but joy comes in the morning.
Recently I read a mental health article about hope and while I found it helpful, I also found myself resisting it. “Why,” I asked myself? I remembered the words of the ancient psalmist. Even they did not soothe my uneasiness. Then I remembered the times when in my life when words of hope, however well-meaning felt like fingernails grating on a blackboard. The time when I didn’t know if I could trust that “joy would come in the morning,” when that sentiment from the psalms seemed trite and unfeeling. Times when I wondered if I was the only one who could not trust those words.
We live in a time when hope can be very tough. The isolation of pandemic and the divisiveness of our country is taking a toll on even the most stalwart and the cheery personalities.
There is community and help at Plymouth!!
There is no shame in needing professional mental health help. Let me say that again… There is no shame in needing professional mental health help. For those who struggle with any kind of mental illness - from mild, situational depression and anxiety to more serious illnesses, hope can seem like a pie-in-the-sky solutions. Even in the midst of the best medication and the best mental health treatment that we can offer in the 21st century – and we have made many strides in this area – hope can seem futile or non-existent to those who are in the midst of mental illness or are gripped by the disease of addiction. If you or someone you know and/or love needs help coping in these tough times, please call one of your pastors! Or email us! We are here for you. You will find our numbers and our emails at the end of this reflection.
In the shorter days and longer nights of this time of year – especially this year – find some small rituals to lift your spirits….as small as:
This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.
With you on this longer-than-we-would-like journey,
Hal Chorpenning – firstname.lastname@example.org; 970-481-2928
Carla Cain – email@example.com; 515-418-7444
Jane Anne Ferguson – firstname.lastname@example.org; 303-257-4933
Online Mental Health Resources:
Interfaith Network on Mental Illness – online programs and a good weekly newsletter
Symptoms of Depression from WebMD
Suicide Prevention; National Suicide Hotline; Larimer County Suicide Prevention (Colorado Crisis Support 1-844-493-8255 or text HOME to 741741)
The Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson, Associate Minister, is a writer, storyteller, and contributor to Feasting on the Word, a popular biblical commentary. She is also the writer of sermon-stories.com, a lectionary-based story-commentary series. Read more