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Moments of Stillness and Thanks

"For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. But you refused…"
Isaiah 30:15, NRSV

It’s done. You did it! The family was gathered virtually or was actually there; you enjoyed turkey, gifts and Christmas movies. The cooking somehow happened, and you survived the fact that no-one remembered the cranberry sauce. The dog ate only half of the grandchildren’s chocolate, and the $500 you had to spend at the vet at least saved his life.

So what now?

All too often, we want to move on too quickly because we must return to work, New Year celebrations await, some in our family are going back to college, and there are people we need to see. Before we’ve sat down and absorbed all the beauty and giftedness of this glorious season, we’ve moved on to the next to-do list and found our next set of goals, and the stress of finding the correct boxes to pack up Mamaw’s Christmas tree is weight on our mind.

Yet, what if we took today to rest and sit in quietness now the work of the season is done? What if we reflected on the Magi still journeying to the Christ child, or the peace that can be found just sitting in front of the tree knowing the work of the festive season is behind us and the New Year is ahead?
For years, I worked in the events industry with very strict rigging and crashing schedules. During set up, you’re sustained by the adrenaline of a deadline and the excitement of the days to come. There is no option but to make it. Oddly, I find all those same feelings surface each time we hit the beginning of December in the church.

When it’s all done, it’s hard not to get immediately swept up in the work because tear down and stowing is a lengthy, tedious job. There’s not much to which to look forward except the promise of a decent shower and your own bed! It took me many years to realize that there’s a sweet spot on the final night of an event: there’s a window of a few hours when all the work is done, and everything can wait for 12 hours for a decent night of rest. This became the time to thank God for all He has done in those days, to just sit and look out on a job well done–just like these few days after Christmas.

The tree can stay up a few more days, and the glitter from the wrapping paper on the carpet can wait. Before you hurry to move on from this blessed season, find some moments today of comfort and joy, of rest, repentance, quietness and trust. Sit and reflect on the holiness of these beautiful days and the extraordinary blessings of God.
The Rev. Jane P. Ferguson
Associate for Liturgy, Student Ministries and Outreach
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