We’re in the time of year that I like to refer to as the most horrible time of the year. The time when the weather gets really cold and wet and miserable. The time of year where we realize the holidays are over, and we have to go back to normal life. The time of year when we can’t wait till Spring to get here already! If there was ever a time of year where we need to feel joy, hope, peace, and love, this time of year is it! Its almost odd that this time of year feels this way, considering that a mere three weeks ago was what many refer to as the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, i feels downright wrong! Christmas is the time when we celebrate the birth, the first coming of Christ. Shouldn’t that Joy stay with us? Shouldn’t we put our mindset to “hooray! Jesus came to save us!” mode a little longer? Shouldn’t we reflect on this joy during this time?
So, what would it look like to keep the joy of Christmas through the winter months (up until Lent)? Well, one thing it would NOT look like is the Christmas season. Sure, all the parties and presents and hectic schedules and commitments of Christmas can be fun, but they are also very stressful. This brings me to the first thing that should happen during this season: We should REST! Rest our bodies, minds, souls – whatever. The Earth itself rests during the winter months, so why shouldn’t we? True, in this day and age, that’s all but impossible – we have jobs and commitments, and sometimes life just happens. I’m not saying quit your job or back out on a commitment . I am saying that perhaps taking a few days off if you can in late January / early February might not be a bad idea. Again, don’t do anything too stressful – just take off to the beach for a day or so, or maybe just stay at home and do the things you love to do. Whatever you do, it is essential to rest.
Resting is good for the soul, and its easy to be joyous when we’re well rested. But simply resting is not enough. We should also keep a positive attitude. True, we should always keep a positive attitude no matter what time of year it happens to be, but especially when we’re trying to keep a joyous mindset. Keeping a positive attitude includes avoiding those things which tend to get us in a negative mindset – everything from politics to music to movies to the news to relationships. Don’t get me wrong here; don’t close the door on your best friend if they’re having a hard time, and please keep in touch with what’s happening in the world and how you can help! Like I said, sometimes life happens – people loose jobs, get in accidents, earthquakes devastate countries. But don’t be overwhelmed by these things – don’t focus on all the bad that is happening around you and in the world. Rather focus on what you can do to help, whether its taking your friend out for a nice dinner and talking, or sending donations to those that are in need. There’s a lot of darkness in the world – but Jesus came to cast a light on the darkness, not to emphasize the darkness. Besides, what better way to keep a joyous demeanor, than to spread joy to others?
So what should worship look like in this time of keeping a joyous attitude? I am not a very traditional person when it comes to traditions in faith- I pretty much believe in following what the spirit tells one to do, not just what tradition tells us. So perhaps I am not the best person to lay out a traditions for others to follow. Having said that, perhaps it would be in order to keep some (not all) Christmas Carols in rotation until the start of Lent. Songs such as “Joy to the world” or “O come let us adore him” have always given me a sense of such joy to sing, and its almost a shame to box them up for 9 months out of the year anyways. Like I mentioned earlier, this season of rest and joy should NOT be a repeat of Christmas, so there will be of course be Christmas songs totally inappropriate to this season. Don’t sing Rudolph or Frosty! Please! And again, we should have a positive focus during this time, so if a particular Christmas hymn brings about the feeling of dread and stress that often times accompanies Christmas, then do not sing that hymn.
Lent is never an easy season to face, for Lent is the time when one really observes how much they need to change. And Lent will be here soon. From the time of this writing, Lent will be here in less than a month. So what better time than now to rest and be joyful? What better time to refuse to give into the dreariness life brings? On the Roman Catholic calendar, we’re in one of two seasons called “Ordinary time.” Basically, this is the time of the year we go about our lives and what not. But to observe this as a season of rest and joy, maybe we can transform this from an ordinary season, to an extraordinary season.