Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Greetings for the Season

The winter solstice has just passed, and we will soon notice our days getting longer.  The creation story of my Cherokee ancestors took account of this yearly cycle.  After the heat of summer, the days grew cooler as the Great Father sank lower and lower in the sky, hiding his face during the winter, making the long nights as black as crows wings.  Winter solstice marks the beginning of the great return, when the days begin to lengthen, when the light lingers longer, and slowly the warmth of the Great Father returns to renew life.

Many of our great traditions have stories of journeys and return.  An expectant Mary traveled with Joseph to give birth to the Christ child.  The Maccabees returned to Jerusalem, where the miracle of Chanukah signaled rebuilding and renewal. And Mohammad made the pilgrimage to Medina, where he gave the Farewell Sermon just before his death.  Regardless of the paths we have tread and the roads ahead, we all share foundational stories of journey and return, darkness and light. 

During this time of year, I am thankful for those who have preceded me at Claremont School of Theology, who over the years have cleared the difficult roads that have led to our current successes.  Like me, many of these good people are devoted Methodists who earnestly seek the will of God for this place and the leaders it prepares.  

Today, as we look forward into 2010, we see a world in flux – it is always in flux – and we understand anew the need for preachers, teachers, leaders and scholars who are uniquely prepared for a new season.  Those of us at Claremont today are tasked with clearing new paths forward as we prepare this way for our children, and our children’s children, in an ever-changing world. 

As our days grow longer, and the Light warms our souls, I wish you and those around you peace and safety on your journey through the coming year.