“Well, so that is that,” wrote W. H. Auden in his 1944 poem on the meaning of Christmas “For the Time Being.”
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
Christmas is over. What will we make of The Child?
- This Christ child whom we celebrated, and who some (like Ricky Bobby in Taladega Nights) want to keep in his infancy?
- The child within us, who is trying to keep some promises to ourselves about how we will live in the Coming Year?
- The child in our world who is filled both with need and promise?
Can we imagine this year might be different? Despite a rather dismal 2014, with its war, disease and politics, there are reasons to hope. Every child comes into the world, as Tagore may have said, with the message that God is not discouraged of humanity.
Even if we have already messed up on our New Year’s Resolutions, we are always allowed a “do-over.” My GPS is always inviting me to “Make a legal U-turn.” And we can do the same in our spiritual life.
The season of Epiphany is a good time to refocus our energies, and look to a power greater than ourselves for guidance and support. With the Magi, let’s “Follow that Star!”
For some years I have invited congregations to resolve to live with a “Star Word.” On Epiphany Sunday, we pass around a basket with cards bearing single words that express spiritual virtues such as “Courage,” or “Hope,” or “Clarity.” We take a card and let the word to be a spiritual focus in the coming year. It may represent a trait we already possess, or an area with room for growth, or something to be given to or received from others. It may feel immediately clear what our word signifies. Or it may take all year to clarify its meaning and purpose. And if we’re utterly unhappy with your word, we can put it back in the basket and take another. For those who couldn’t make it to church, I have offered to send a word from my “Random Star Word” generator. I’d be happy to send a word to any readers who want to resolve to follow a “Star Word.”
Jack Lohr is the Interim Minister at Hitchcock Presbyterian Church in Scarsdale, NY.