Most of us however – whether in secular or non-secular professions – call this Vacation Week. A Thursday to Thursday holiday means that we get a whole eleven days off – unless we work for scoundrels. And yet . . .
This is The Most Pastorally Heavy Week of the Year. Consider this:
- While suicide peaks in the springtime according to this article, it’s nevertheless a blue season for many people.
- There are lovers who thought they might receive wedding proposals at Christmas, but they were disappointed.
- There are adult children who were treated like their adolescent – or even preschool – selves while visiting relatives and it didn’t go well.
- There are unemployed people who have little hope for a quick and easy hire in the first weeks of the New Year.
- There are addicts who will have spent multiple hours in 12-Step meetings.
- There are individuals with no families, no friends, toxic families, fake friends.
- There are people who could not “afford” Christmas this year.
You get the picture.
So what happens when professional clergy take the week off – which of course they deserve after a relentless Advent and Christmas Eve extravaganza? My hope is that we all notice that this is one of the toughest weeks of the calendar year in terms of emotional and spiritual needs.
And I hope that we reach out in compassion. Has anyone taught us how to do this? (Heads up: this is an excellent goal for churches in 2015 – that this time next year there are dozens of people equipped in our spiritual communities to offer pastoral care during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day 2015.)
Let’s take notice out there. And be gentle with each other.
Image is the sculpture of The Prodigal Son by Charlie Mackesy (2009)