... in being unseasonal

Published on 20 Mar 2019
Scattered star sequins

My local church kept its nativity scene and Christmas decorations until February 2nd, the Presentation of the Lord. This is a Christian tradition which helps us mark the infanthood of Christ and remember that he was once a child. As time has gone on, the way the Church has celebrated the liturgical seasons has changed slightly, and some churches would not keep their decorations for so long.

So it was that the statue of Mary kept her tinsel and artificial winter foliage until 2nd February. But then, when everything else was taken down... she still kept her tinsel. Looking up at the statue and seeing the Christmas decorations around her feet I could sympathise with the person in charge of their removal (perhaps they could not reach up that far?) but also I found it consoling. All too often we leave thinking about the Incarnation and all it means until Christmas Day and only Christmas Day. Ought we not think about the Holy Family, Mary's role as God-bearer, and the meaning of the Incarnation itself, at other times of year? Every mother who has born a child will know that being a mother is not just about the birth but a part of every waking moment. And so it must have been with Mary, and so it should be with us in thinking and praying about the Incarnation.

I think the final Christmas decoration was finally removed some time in late February, although in truth I lost track of exactly when it happened. 

When the first Sunday of Lent arrived I was amused to hear the reader confidently announce the gospel with the acclamation 'Praise to you O Christ, King of Eternal Glory, Alleluia Alleluia' with the congregation unhesitatingly, obediently, joining in. (For those that may not be aware, the liturgical rubrics do not permit us to say or sing Alleluia throughout Lent.) I thought this might be a small error and the next week we would be more Lenten and omit the Alleluia, but in fact the following week the reader again added the Alleluias. Although this time, I think the congregation were less willing to join in with them. 

This reminds me of the old song which goes 'it's June in January, because I'm in love'. I feel like God is saying to me, perhaps although we need to be penitent, prayerful, Lenten we also need our little bit of celebration. a small reminder of the joy that is peeking out from behind the corner? That, or he's like us to pay a bit more attention to detail with our liturgical rubrics.