I was recently speaking to Deacon Nathan about New Year’s resolutions. I typically make one, but I cannot remember any that I have completed or kept longer than a few months. He shared his thought that with all that has been happening over the past few years, he believed this was the year to resolve to drop something rather than taking on some new obligation. I think he is onto something. A stressful season of life will probably not be improved upon by the added pressure of failed commitments.
I perpetually resolve to learn guitar, but this might be the year to instead drop social media accounts and free myself from some of the world’s drama. Instead of resolving to lose 20 pounds by taking on a restrictive diet, I might resolve to drop comparing myself to others. There is more than one route to self-improvement or a better quality of life. There are periods when we need relief from the pressures and pain of life, not more pressure and pain.
In the Gospel we hear this second Sunday of Christmas Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt to protect Jesus from the wrath of Herod. Think about all that Egypt represented to the Jewish people, yet they fled there for refuge. Joseph and Mary knew that what they needed in a dangerous time was sanctuary, even if it was in Egypt.
I hope that our parish is a place of peace and sanctuary for you. I remember times in my life when church added pressure and obligation. This feeling was doubled when I became a minister. Since becoming an Episcopalian this feeling has vanished. I thought it would return when I became a priest, but it has not. Don't get me wrong, I still feel stress at times during busy seasons (or building programs), but not during worship. Even when I am leading it, worship still provides relief, comfort and sanctuary.
See you in church!
Fr. Tom +