Ordination changes the seasons, fills the diary and shifts ones focus so the ‘normal things’ of Christmas seem an impossible luxury to me today. So, I sit here in the rectory knowing that I will not decorate, that if I bake at all, it will be a few days after the event, and that I may write a few cards in time for Epiphany.
And that is OK.
I miss the rituals. Seeing the Nutcracker in March is not the same. A Christmas pudding simply cannot be justified in January when there is time. Molly looks lovely curled up under the lights of a Christmas tree, and I am sorry to deprive her of that pleasure.
But it is OK, because ordination lead to a different sort of Christmas, full of less tangible gifts.
There is the moment when you sit in a darkened church and watch the mother of John the baptist come to life: proud joy and the ready assumption that she is bearing the messiah, then profound humility when John leaps in her womb and shows her the truth of the saviour’s birth.
There is the moment, too, when a short poem with a tricky first line, made trickier by the reader’s habit for associative links that means ‘I am woman’ threatens to come with a roar, comes (instead) like the unfurling of a rose: slow and lovely and touched with velvet.
And then, there is the anticipation — the knowing that however good it has been so far, the last reading will take people’s breath away: a God’s eye view of bringing pain and love into the world in a single moment; a life-time of prayer and study distilled in half a page. There is joy too in knowing that no one has ever heard this before, and the author will bring it to birth before your eyes.
Anticipation. Fulfillment. God pouring out tears of joy and pain in equal measure at the birth of one who will bear his likeness.
Much of the season gets lost in a flurry of pew sheets and sermons, freshly washed vestments, and lists of what remains to be done. Yet in-between times the gifts are lovely: rare, and true and clear.