Note: This is normally the spot for the weekly "Letter from Liz." Katie and I will be writing these weekly pastoral letters while she's away on sabbatical.
Happy 5th day of Christmas! This 12-day season runs from Christmas Day to Epiphany, when we remember the visit of the magi to Jesus. These 12 days have very little to do with gold rings and partridges in pear trees; they have everything to do with the light of God breaking into a dark world in the incarnation of Jesus.
This light slowly builds throughout Advent as Christmas nears (think of our Advent candles) . . . then burns brightly through our joyful Christmas celebrations . . . then persists and grows throughout season of Epiphany which follows. (You may remember that last year, we chose the motif of stained glass for our Epiphany artwork to focus our attention on this growing light.)
The collect we prayed on Sunday beautifully captures the light of this season:
Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, kindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
As we come to the end of the very dark year of 2020, we are all longing for more light. One practical way to welcome God's light is to set aside time for intentional reflection. We can invite the Holy Spirit to bring clarity, truth, and insight to our memories of the year past and our hopes for the year ahead.
There are a few tools I've used in the past to help shape this kind of year-end reflection. One is a simple examen, a reflective way of praying developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Normally the examen is prayed daily as a way of reviewing the day with God, but it can easily serve as a framework for reviewing the year. A simple yearly examen is available here.
If you are interested in a longer, more in-depth reflection, this Great Annual Examen is a wonderful resource which you can adapt as needed to your time and circumstances.
Or perhaps a formal time of reflection feels difficult right now. Perhaps instead you simply need to take a walk in the sunlight, breathe in the fresh air, and ask God to shine his light on whatever needs your attention as 2020 draws to a close.
Finally, I encourage you in the coming year to dwell in the light of scripture. We will be studying 1 Corinthians throughout the winter and spring, a rich and challenging book. Our small groups will be safe places to read, discuss, question, wrestle, and apply these ancient words to our lives. Please sign up and invite a friend!
And if you are struggling to glimpse the light in these dark days, please don't hesitate to reach out. I am praying for each one of you.