Consider well and bear in mind

Furst Christmas Eve Family Service – 2015
Christmas is a time for nostalgia. One of my favorite music sources is Holiday Traditions on Sirius/XM, the satellite radio service. Bing Crosby, the Percy Faith Orchestra, Perry Como, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Steve and Edie, and on and on. They all remind me of childhood days when we could not wait for the next Christmas album, sponsored by Goodyear or Firestone to arrive at our local Western Auto store. My dad would buy the album and we’d play it (and the ones before it in the series) over and over until the grooves would no longer track the needle on our stereo phonograph (Yes, I know. There are many who may read this and wonder what in the world I am talking about. Just ask your parents.)

Anyway, just hearing those classics brings memories of family traditions, Christmas tress toppled over by the cat as my mother completed decorating, gifts, and cookies – lots of cookies. And, of course, Midnight Mass.

These memories are always welcome and can create a comforting reverie. But those daydreams seldom recall the family tensions, arguments, or disappointments that accompanied those happy memories. As humans, we tend only to remember the good parts and try to sock the uncomfortable stuff away, out of sight and out of mind. If we are honest, though, we realize that music induced reveries are not reality. The good ol’ days weren’t always all that “good.” Perhaps there is a lesson here for us in the difficult days of our Christmas present.

The many months or the COVID-19 pandemic have been difficult and for many, deeply painful. Most of us continue to live with anxious spirits about when all this will end – when we can get back to what we account as “normal.” That time of “normal” may be what has become for us in the present, the good ol’ days.

But just like our nostalgic reveries, we  must remember that the old normal may not have been all that “good.” Our continuing response to the challenges of the pandemic are teaching many what is genuinely important. Increasingly, studies are showing us that there has been a wholesale reassessment of just what is important in our lives. Staffing difficulties, for instance, tell us that people are no longer wanting to waste their precious energies on work that doesn’t pay enough or isn’t rewarding enough to make it worthwhile. We, in turn, get frustrated because of long lines, long waits, and the need to ask ourselves, is it our instant gratification really worth it?

Many of those “Christmas Classics” on the music services were written in times of great challenge – the unemployment and pain caused by the Great Depression of the 1930s – the shortages and rationing occasioned by the war effort in the 40s. Irving Berlin wrote the wistful lyrics and yearning melody of “White Christmas” (1941) to give soldiers a reminder of what awaited them on their return home. Of course, as the years ensued, so many did not return.

So, maybe we need to recognize that theseare the good ol’ days of a future generation. Just how we gather and celebrate the deeper meanings of Christmas can provide the “comfort and joy” we so eagerly desire. We can learn to live “in the moment” by recognizing just what we have and how fortunate we really are. Remembering the past does no good if we cannot learn from it. It is even less helpful is all we want is to return to it. Let’s make this Christmas one to remember – forget the flash and get to the real core of what Christmas – and we – are about. Take guidance from the opening verse of the Wessex Carol:

Good people all, this Christmas time

Consider well and bear in mind

What our good God for us has done

In sending his beloved son

If we join our hearts and minds in this endeavor, we will remember this Christmas as fondly as any that has gone before. Merry Christmas!

Source: Rector’s Blog

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