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Pastor's Message - January 2024

~Every Day a Holiday~

“I listened to you at the right time, and I helped you on the day of salvation. Look, now is the right time! Look, now is the day of salvation!”

~II Corinthians 6:2


Dear Members and Friends,

You and I may hurry through January, just hoping to get it over with. But the calendar conceals so many lesser holidays within the chilly folds of its coldest month, all waiting a little forlornly for someone to celebrate them. The biggest one is New Year’s Day, which dwells in the long shadow (or the hungover haze) of its December sibling, New Year’s Eve. For many, it’s a good day to rehydrate or take a “First Day Hike.” Of course, for the Chinese, New Year’s Day is the biggest celebration of the year, but it only falls in January about half the time. In my experience, most Americans don’t know what to do with New Year’s Day. Of course, there’s the sauerkraut rule here in Pennsylvania, but aside from that, what? Even sauerkraut is not universally binding, since many folks think it’s best to eat black-eyed peas on the first day of the year. January 1 through 5 are the Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth days of Christmas, respectively. (But if you’ve got that song stuck in your head now, please don’t go around humming it; the only way to get “The Twelve Days of Christmas” out of your head is to replace it with an even worse Christmas song, like “Jingle Bell Rock.”) Twelfth Night celebrations are still observed in some cultures as a bacchanalian grand finale to Christmastime. But for most of us the season just peters out unnoticed sometime in late December. Then you’ve got Epiphany, or “Three Kings Day,” on January 6, which just makes people wonder why you’re still talking about Christmas. Baptism of the Lord always falls on the first Sunday after Epiphany; have you ever heard of that one? We Protestants often skip it in favor of a halfhearted Epiphany Sunday. “Russian Christmas” is January 7. Then? Then you go holiday-free till January 15, when Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed. You’re supposed to observe MLK Day by performing acts of service for your local community. Kwanzaa spills over into January, but then I think that’s it…unless you’re celebrating Anne Smith’s birthday, or mine, both of which fall late in the month. Did I miss any? That’s a grand total of—what?—ten or eleven holidays that you could celebrate if you wanted. Name a month that has more than that!

So many worthy things in life go uncelebrated, don’t they? Of course, holidays are just a human-made attempt to honor certain ideals and principles. No one can observe all of them. Many of them don’t even speak to our imagination. (June 8 is National Donut Day if you care to celebrate it.) But how often do we find real joy in the daily wonders of our lives: the fresh, bracing air of winter; a genuine smile on the face of one we love; a sweet old tune that we recall from long ago; a photograph or painting or song that touches something deep inside of us…. If we paid attention to our living, if we listened more closely to our life’s sounds, and paused to observe its sights, if we attended to our five senses, how joyful life could be, how vibrant and full! Surely every day that God sends us in these brief lives is a holiday–for consider all the many millions of days that came before us and all the millions that will come after we have gone! Let’s attend to our lives like the sacred things they are, cherishing them, enjoying them, reveling in their beauty. “Holiday” means “holy day,” and every day we get is one of those.




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