Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Thank God for the church calendar

I was fully grown before I knew there were such things as a church calendar, liturgy and Christian holy days in addition to Christmas and Easter. Just not part of the Southern Baptist tradition.

Now, I can't imagine a faith life without them. There's no voodoo involved or anything. It's just that being a human means I'm a creature of habit. And after spending many years cultivating bad habits, I find strength for living, and a measure of peace, in cultivating good habits.

I know today is the day of Epiphany. I know that Ash Wednesday is Feb. 25. I know that Easter is 40 days later. I'll probably attend a Maunday Wednesday service.

The point is I'm thinking about it all. "Christmas" is no longer one day. "Easter" is no longer one day. And both to me now are so much more than they were when I was growing up.

Not that there was a thing wrong with the way I grew up. But I need reminders for living every other aspect of my life, and I'm glad there are formalized reminders to help me live my Christian faith life.

Yesterday was a bummer. First Monday back to work. My academic friends are gearing up for a new semester, and I'm jealous. Part of my melancholy was purely chemical: I'm taking phentermine again to get a jump start on losing some weight -- and yesterday was the first day off it after six in a row on it, which is always a little down. Dr. ER is sick. Both of our dogs are geriatic and have bad backs and are on meds for it. Ice-T, our big kitty, has got something wrong with him. I owe the state historical journal a book review. My own book languishes. A journal article sent back to me for revision languishes. Almost all of my books are still in boxes in the garage from the carpet-laying. It hit me over Christmas that my Bird is gone for good, when she and her YankeeBeau bought a dang house! I'm looking 45 in the eye.

There's a big fat paragraph of whining -- factual, but whining nonetheless. I've had worse emotional bottoms, but I think this is one. Enough!

As Dr. ER pointed out, "At least you're not in Gaza."

I should be ashamed. But ...

Once in awhile I literally hit my knees at the foot of the bed and throw myself, such as it is, with the hope of Christ, onto the mercy of the Cosmos and God, God's Self. Did that this morning. Now it's time to cowboy up. Wish me well, y'all.


(About the photo: The Three Magi: Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar, from a late 6th century mosaic at the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy.)

The feast of Epiphany has always been about the Incarnation, not the revelation of God, but the revelation of God in flesh. As if it takes us a few days after the miracle of the virgin birth to realize that this promised child is also a human poop factory. This is God… in dirty diapers.

Jesus never faced mid-life. Not that I would want to follow his way of getting out of it. But it makes it easier for the young to follow him in earnest with prophetic zeal. Part of our seduction is to always think somebody else has it better in life: Jesus with his revolutionary purpose; the professor with her books and adoring students; the Obama’s with their youth intact and now fame and accomplishment and power.

In the East it is not the baby that is revealed at Epiphany, but the Son of God by virtue of Jesus’ baptism. That baptism set in place the path to the cross. Being somebody else just means another cross.

ER you are incarnated creation. Shit, pain and death will be all around your barnyard of life. The epiphany is that you are made increasingly divine, nonetheless; able to participate in God’s own nature even as you are right now. It is a slow burn kind of divinity, as invisible as Christ’s own when he went to the can, snored in his sleep, chipped a tooth, missed his family, rubbed his calluses, rode a bouncing mule, asked for a different line of work with better pay, sweated blood.

The times, they have changed, pain has come and gone and other pains have arrived. But you remain… a king.

Speaking of St. Apollinare…

The Mirabeau Bridge
Guillaume Apollinaire

(translation by W.S. Merwin)

Under the Mirabeau Bridge the Seine
Flows and our love
Must I be reminded again
How joy came always after pain

Night comes the hour is rung
The days go I remain

Hands within hands we stand face to face
While underneath
The bridge of our arms passes
The loose wave of our gazing which is endless

Night comes the hour is rung
The days go I remain

Love slips away like this water flowing
Love slips away
How slow life is in its going
And hope is so violent a thing

Night comes the hour is rung
The days go I remain

The days pass the weeks pass and are gone
Neither time that is gone
Nor love ever returns again
Under the Mirabeau Bridge flows the Seine

Night comes the hour is rung
The days go I remain
Gracias. I like this: "It is a slow burn kind of divinity ... "
Ride on, King ER, over the bumpy rode of life, to love as long as you can. Aside from Dickels on ice, everything else gets its meaning from the long and slow but steady burn of loving.
Depending on whom you site, life expectancy during Jesus' place and time was between 25 and 40. Probably after you subtract infant mortality from the "data", the mode was maybe around 35 to 40.

So Jesus did "experience" midlife by those standards. I hold that he probably experienced marriage and fatherhood as well. Indeed, his mission may have been the result of a mid-life crisis. After all he was a son of man, was he not? If he wasn't, then all this sacrifice stuff is bullshit isn't it?

ER as I have noted before, your temperament best suits you to a more structured church, Episcopal perhaps. Form can lead to substance, and substance can be contained within form, even the wrong form.

As for living and cowboying up, well that shit do get old don't it.
Everybody is a slave to something in this life. Often we have multiple masters. For now cinch up the saddle, climb up, and ride down the fence line. For tomorrow, well, think on it.

Happy trails!
Hey, my current church is more structured than any I ever thought on being a part of!

Tomorrow will be better. Mr. Phentermine will see to it. :-)
Jesus didn't learn to drive either, and that's why I take the subway.
Sounds like a line from a song. Barry McGuire and Joan Baez duet maybe.

Theologically, the EC is the baggiest pants in Christendom. The Prayer Book forms for the sacraments are the only thing that unifies it (and even they have all kinds of alternative mix and match parts).

Can DR LBJ not take men in dresses?

Cowboy up!... in an alb.
Some days I need to remind myself there are reasons to get out of bed. Then, around 3 pm Central Time, they come through the door off the school bus, and I remember that all of it - even that moment when the alarm sounds and I just want to pull the blankets over my head and disappear - is worthwhile, makes sense, and most important of all, isn't about me anyway.

As for the Liturgical calendar, I agree wholeheartedly. Structuring time in this way reminds us that it, too, is God's.
It used to be the case that folk took sugar coated tapeworm cysts to loose weight. Interestingly, parasites are now bring exploited to treat allergies and asthma.
Mr. Phentermine is my friend.
(Let's edit that to say Maundy Thursday, OK?)

Other than the sick wife and pets, things sound pretty good. May not feel that way, but they will look better in 10 years than they do today.
The first Maundy of anything I ever did was a Maundy Wednesday, at a United Methodist church in Texas. But mostly it's Maundy Thursday, si.
"Christmas" is no longer one day. "Easter" is no longer one day.

They were never just "one day," but I do see your point. The church by and large is liturgically illiterate. Which is a sad state of affairs indeed.
To me. They are no longer one day to me. That was implied. Sorry to be unclear.
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