Sing praises to the Lord, O you faithful ones, and give thanks to God’s holy name.Psalm 30:4
This time of year reminds me of rip tides at the ocean. You know, those currents that pull a person beneath the waves, running fast and swift. The warning to swimmers is, don’t try to swim directly to shore because the power of the current is too strong. Instead, swim parallel to the shore and at an angle in order to avoid being pulled under. Why does that come to mind this time of year for me?
There is a steady ratcheting up of emotion and marketing at this time of year, beginning with Thanksgiving and then culminating at Christmas Day with people having spent lots of money and time at festivities. This cultural riptide can be a threat to sincere and authentic religious life. But I don’t believe the solution is to swim against that current and raise complaints about whether or not people say Merry Christmas or Happy Winter Holiday. Swim parallel to this current. Enjoy some eggnog, decorate your tree without guilty conscience (you’re not a pagan for doing so), exchange some gifts, wear ugly sweaters. Just keep swimming parallel to the shore at an angle until you step out of all that cultural bluster and the Silent Night of Christmas Eve ushers in the quiet beauty of the Good News given to Shepherds. One way to “swim parallel” is to worship in this season. Worship provides a safe refuge for us in this season and it also aims us in the right direction.
So Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May your travels be safe if you’re journeying. And I hope you can sense that I’m praying thanks for all of you. For the gifts of God, for human friendship and companionship and joy, for the gift of life, give thanks.
Grace & Peace. ~PSTR