WS Update: Spiritual Melancholy

January 3, 2022

The first Monday in January is often accompanied by melancholy as the sweet aroma of Christmas gives way to the harsh scents of January. The final pages of WH Auden’s “Christmas Oratorio” capture what many of us might be feeling today:

“Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes….
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed 
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable Possibility, 
once again we have sent Him away…
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory, 
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought 
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off.”

Auden is reflecting on the danger of a shallow Christianity that sings the songs celebrating the birth of Jesus yet doesn’t take the truth all the way in, “craving the sensation but ignoring the cause” as he writes later. We will explore that danger starting Sunday when we begin a study of Jonah. But for now one antidote to spiritual melancholy is to start the year with a plan to immerse yourself in God’s word. To that end several recommendations are listed below, all of which will turn apprehension of Lent and Good Friday into expectation of a hope that comes through death.

Happy New Year!

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
-Psalm 1:1-3 

Recommendations to start your year in God’s Word:

Getting Connected

We’re glad you’re a part of Redeemer West Side! What’s your next step to get more connected to community here?

Coming up at RWS

  • Sign up for New at RWS, Jan 9: If you’re new to Redeemer West Side, we welcome you to come learn more about our church and get connected to community.
  • How to pray for neighbors in need every month. This year, pray for a different community each month with Hope for New York. Follow this Hope for New York prayer guide to keep vulnerable neighbors in mind.
  • Dedicate time to serving Avail clients. Avail is a confidential care network for women who need support with unplanned pregnancies. There are many ways to serve at Avail—find a way to serve in the new year!