Meeting Vulnerability in the Presentation of Our Lord

February 2, the Presentation of our Lord, the marks the next of the twelve major feast days on the Church calendar. It’s a time we commemorate the Jewish ceremony of the redemption of the firstborn as well as the ceremonial purification of the Theotokos after childbirth. In Greek, the feast sometimes referred to as the Meeting. In that…

Adventures in Holy Water: What a leaky font taught me about sacramental reality

Note: This essay was originally written in January 2015, after a particularly memorable Eve of Theophany.  For Orthodox families like ours, today is Theophany: the commemoration of Christ’s baptism. Liturgically, it marks the end of Christmas, and the beginning of something new—a turn from Christ’s infancy and towards His life on earth. And so, we’ll take down the lights,…

Christmas Eve with Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Well, Saturday is upon us and this evening, we will embark on the Great and Holy Feast of the Nativity of Christ. Call me crazy, but there’s always a bit of grief when you know a fast is ending. Believe me I’m looking forward to Christmas and all that entails (cough Bacon cough). But the fasts are always such a…

The Holy Friday of Christmas? What we remember when Christmas falls on a Sunday

Christmas being on a Sunday this year is kind of messing with my sense of time–I keep thinking it’s holy week. On this last day of the work week (perhaps last working day of 2016), time feels quiet, still and contemplative, like things are winding down. Like we are in the sad but peaceful eye of a storm…

Waiting for Christmas Bread: Orthodox-ifying an Old German Custom

Yesterday, we were talking about perfectionism and Christmas. At the end of the post, I mentioned something I was doing to help curb the all-or-nothing attitude of perfectionism during the holidays. Something to help prepare my heart for the Feast of the Nativity of Christ. That thing is making Kletzenbrot (dried pear bread), a German fruit bread that contains many…

A blessed Advent! From my perfectionism to yours…

The Advent and Christmas seasons are a perfectionist’s nightmare. At no time of year do the “shoulds,” “oughts,” and “pinterests” blare more loudly in our minds than December.  As soon as you get the old holiday ornaments out of storage, the shiny new ones gleam and scream from the store shelves: Buy me! You need me to have…

The Hollowness: Grief and Emptiness in Advent

What?! The Great Feast of the Nativity of our Savior is less than a week away? As is usual for me this time of year, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I’m failing at Christmas. As is also usual for me this time of year, I’ve come to a belated and idealistic conclusion: less perfectionizing, more…