Now that Christmas, 2018 is behind us, it’s time to close the books on our poet friend, W. H. Auden and his long Christmas poem, “For the Time Being.” Here are some of his final words as he brings the story to an end:
Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes—
Some have got broken—and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week—
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted—quite unsuccessfully—
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
Sort of captures the mood of the days just after Christmas, doesn’t it? Those feelings of joy, love and warmth wear off, and we are back in the rut of everyday existence before we know it. As Auden says, “we have failed to do more than entertain it (the spirit of Christmas) as an agreeable possibility.” Auden says we are like children who can’t keep a promise for very long.
Does Christmas simply offer a momentary respite from the ordinary? Or, can we learn to live the whole year in the spirit of that special day? You may read this after January 1, but there is still time for a resolution or two. I would suggest more regular attendance at church—try to be present at least three out of four Sundays. Don’t get upset if we are worshipping in “the other” church building. All the buildings, all the meeting rooms are now “ours.” Nothing is “theirs” any more. The more time we spend together in worship and prayer, the easier will be our transformation into a united congregation.
Here are some special dates that I would like you to put in your appointment calendar:
Sunday, February 24. We are planning to hold the final annual meeting of the two historic congregations and also the first congregational meeting of the new United Presbyterian Church. The session of the new congregation will be elected that day, along with its board of deacons. This will take place immediately after the worship service.
Wednesday, March 6. Ash Wednesday. Please plan to attend the traditional evening service. This is the beginning of Lent, and this will be an important season of prayer and re-commitment for all of us as we begin the adventure of being a revitalized, unified congregation.
Thursday evenings in Lent, March 7, 14, 21 and 28 and April 4 and 11. These evenings will be dedicated to the study of our church’s mission in community—our relationship as a congregation of Christ’s followers to the social issues that affect us and those around us. We will also spend some time at each meeting in group prayer. Time and location to be announced
Sunday, April 21. Easter. We will have our third annual “sunrise” service on the lawn at Levittown and our 10 a.m. service at the Massapequa campus.
I hope you will be present for these events. Please be a part of this new enterprise of the spirit as we begin life as a new church! As poet Auden said in the closing lines of his Christmas poem:
“He is the Way.
Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;
You will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures.”