The end of the football season is upon us. If your team is still in the NFL playoffs, this fact is hidden from you in the excitement, but the end is coming.
The long winter without football is upon us. When your team wins the Super Bowl, then you can live in the glow for a few seconds until the first reporter asks the coach “if the team will repeat.”
There will be the false spring of the draft and the sort of kissing-your-cousin excitement of training camps, but no real games. Like the Twelfth Night of Christmas tree, the glory is departing for the football season.
Even here at HBU, deep in the heart of Texas, the stadium, soon to be constructed, is not yet here. We live in hope, but hope is not the same as the Saturday tailgate to come.
Just as football is distant, so is Christmas. The Twelve Days are over and there is no time in the whole secular year when Christmas is more distant than it is today. On Epiphany the wise man comes and go and our remembrance, the crèche has gone to storage. Now is the moment of Richard Dawkins: the February of the soul looms.
This is the bleak part of winter.
And yet, I refuse to sorrow. Echoes of Bing Crosby remain: “I will count my blessings instead of sheep.”
On the sporting front, baseball season will soon start. Surely the Astros cannot be worse than they were last year? The Pirates were actually good last year and promise much. Are Friday Night Firework date nights at Minute Maid Park really so far away?
I work at Houston Baptist University: the future of higher education. I work for Robert Sloan. The Deans are strong and getting stronger and senior faculty are creating a stir. Google Micah Mattix. Check out Donni Wilson’s writings. Read Matt Boyleston’s poetry. We have exciting new faculty to announce soon, the President is leading a student-centered revamp of all our programs, and soon we will be making movies. I can watch the Huskies basketball teams challenge NCAA Division I for the first time.
Lent is coming and with it the promise of Easter: we will celebrate what Christmas started and Good Friday finished. Spring will bring renewed life, the deliciously hot summer nights of Houston, and Wheatstone summer camps will bring young people to mature Christian living.
My church (Saint Paul’s) has a dedicated and hard work priest. He is the kind of guy that you can call with problems that he will neither view with horror nor minimize. We will hear Father Richard preach many Sundays . . . even in February in our new church building!
All of this, of course, is personal and superficial. Bing was wrong: by itself listing the good does not always outweigh the bad. All blessings (as Job found) can vanish, but one: I can see God and live.
Job’s dead children were not “replaced” by any future blessings. Bad news remained bad news. Good news was only God in the light of the Lord of Eternity where all pain becomes meaningful and all hurts are healed.
Jesus is Lord!
Do I realize this?
Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord.
That is true in December, but it is also true in February. In this bleak part of winter, He is here . . . and in fact, at the very end of the month, Hope was born.
While this Hope is her own person and perhaps not known by everyone (more is the pity), she is also a sign (at least to me) of what February must be: the season of living with hope.
Spring is coming, the cycle of the year will roll on, and 2014 like every year will consummate in Christmas. There also exists, never fading, for the Christian the blessed hope that this year the cycle will move to a higher plane and we will take a permanent holiday for sin, pain, and misery.
Jesus could come and make all things new!
I feel jollification coming in 2014: the year of hope.