Saint Lucy in the sky

Friday, December 13, 2019

From Isaiah 48
I, the Lord, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go. If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea.

I am earnestly NOT watching the news these days.


I can hardly help it sometimes, but as much as possible I am focusing instead on parties.

Celebrate the moments of Advent. Celebrate the people I love. Celebrate the energy God gives me every morning (or most mornings). Celebrate with all my might. Christmas is coming, and the goose is getting fat.

We watched two wonderful English “reality” shows. One took us back to the 1870’s for three hours of Christmas in Victorian England, and the other back farther yet, for an hour in Tudor times during the early 1500’s. Ruth and Peter and Rupert and Tom and others live out those times on screen in every detail.

Much harder work than I imagined preceded and prepared the people for Advent feasts and the twelve days of Christmas. And although Monday after the twelfth day of Christmas was dubbed “Plowing Day” (OK, let’s get back to work!), until then the celebrations included everyone and lasted a long, long time.

The greatest party came on Twelfth Night, the eve of Epiphany. This fine time concluded the celebrations, so you can imagine this party sometimes got out of hand.

A Twelfth Night cake was prepared, and in it the baker (Ruth) placed a hard green pea. As the Tudor Twelfth Night meal progressed, Ruth brought out the cake and began to shout, “The 12th Night Cake! The 12th Night Cake!” Everyone pulled off a handful and ate. Then the chorus began, “Who’s got the pea? Who’s got the pea?”

Because the possessor of the pea was crowned the Lord of Misrule. A crown was placed upon his head, the crown created out of homemade felt and colored ribbons (color stayed by the use of stale urine, by the way). The Lord proclaimed a night of foolishness and ribaldry, everyone began to throw food at each other, and … there we go.

Jesus loved to party. I don’t know how much food he threw, or snowballs, or confetti. He did complain about two-faced opponents. “John came fasting and they called him crazy. I came feasting and they called me a lush.” But he referred the matter back to Heaven. His confidence in his Father won the day. “Wisdom is vindicated by her works.”

Or as Jesus says in The Message, “Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating” (Matthew 11).

It’s hard to get away from the news. But Eugene Peterson’s mischievous translation sends me reeling back to today’s Feast of Saint Lucy. In Sicily on this very day, some of the faithful feast on homemade pasta and various other Italian dishes, with a special dessert of wheat in hot chocolate milk. The large grains of soft wheat are representative of Lucy’s eyes and are a treat only to be indulged in once a year. So says Wikipedia.

Most of us have trouble receiving the gifts God pours out on us. I want to join those Sicilians, and those Tudorians, and those Victorians, and say, “Yes!”

Your parties, Lord, don’t need a lot of hype or build-up from me. I don’t need to go shopping, or cook the goose, or freeze the ice cream. When you’re with me, and I can say “yes” to you, our dancing and singing never ends.

According to Wikipedia, Twelfth Night and the Lord of Misrule were a bit different from the proceedings of the Tudor party we watched. Ah, well. That’s the way misrule works, isn’t it?

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All photographs on this site Copyright © 2018 by David Sandel.