One Lent, when my mom was in the hospital and I was spending significant time with her there, I took a break for a late lunch by myself at a nearby Japanese restaurant. While I waited for my bowl of udon noodle soup—my ultimate comfort food–I idly watched people walking by on the street, and just as idly listened to the music playing in the background.
Hmmm, that song sounds familiar, I thought to myself, and then I realized, hey wait a minute, isn’t that O Holy Night? A Christmas carol, in the middle of Lent? I thought my ears must be playing tricks on me. I must really need that bowl of udon. But I kept listening, and the next song was O Come All Ye Faithful. Another Christmas carol?
When the server brought my soup, I said to him, “I’m curious about your music—how do you choose what to play?” But he just shrugged and said, “I don’t know, the manager picks it.”
I listened to more Christmas carols while I had my lunch, watched more people walk by on that beautiful spring day, and thought about how Christmas and Easter go together. My server didn’t seem to know or care, and maybe his manager didn’t mean anything significant by his choice of music either. The subtle instrumentals made for good background music in that quiet restaurant.
For me, hearing the Christmas carols out of season took on added meaning. They reminded me that the Jesus whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, is the same Jesus whose suffering and death we remember during Lent, is the same Jesus whose resurrection we celebrate at Easter. Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection go together. “The Christ event,” as one of my professors used to say. The Christmas carols out of season were not so out of season after all.
Come, Lord Jesus, the comfort and joy of Christmas,
Come, Lord Jesus, the suffering servant of Lent,
Come, Lord Jesus, the risen King of Easter,
I come to you.
Writing Prompt: What are some of your favourite comfort foods and why? In what ways do you hold Christmas, Lent, and Easter together?
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8 thoughts on “Why I Love to Celebrate Lent With Christmas Carols and Udon Noodle Soup”
Hi April, I want to thank you for your blogs and also your books, Sacred Pauses, Spark, and the date book for 2015. I used the date book to journal. I struggle to journal, but using that date book was a good place to start. I wanted to thank you in person at the Manitoba conference, I was with Mary Anne Loeppky, but didn’t want to take away from your conversations, then Sat. I didn’t see you. I attend Altona Bergthaler Church, and Virginia is my pastor. Many blessings to you as you use your sabbatical to write. Rose Tryon
Rose, thank you so much for commenting here – I would have loved to have talked with you when we were both at the Manitoba conference. Friday and Saturday were both very full, and I was glad to see the strong turnout, but sorry I missed you. If you’ll be at the Mennonite Church Canada Assembly in Saskatoon, perhaps we could connect then? I first met Virginia when she was a pastoral intern with me at Emmanuel years ago, and I’m so glad to see her blossoming in ministry! Thank you also for your kind words about my books – I’m more or less on track with my writing during this sabbatical and appreciate your blessing.
A stunning and lovely worship visual you have photographed here. Thanks! (And it would be fascinating to know whether the Christmas carols were by choice or by accident in that restaurant!)
Thanks, Melodie – I’m so thankful for our worship committee that creates such wonderful visuals! They really add to our worship and invite good reflection. And as for those Christmas carols, I guess I’ll never know whether they were by accident or design, but they came at just the right time for me 🙂
As a writer of worship resources, I have gotten very accustomed to writing them outside of the church season. For instance, I am just about done the Pentecost worship resources for the 2017 issue of Leader where they will appear. Then, during the Easter Season, I will be writing the 2016 Advent At Home booklet, now under contract with the Central Plains Mennonite Conference. I have come to appreciate the comparisons between the season I am living and for which I am writing. I used to need some seasonal music to get into the right mood to write, but now, all I need is some time with the Scriptures of that season. I have also come to love the way Charles Colson compares the church seasons to our lived experiences. This year my personal Lent started in late November, and my personal Easter season occurred during Lent as my writing began to be published again.
Thanks for sharing your experience here, Elsie. I also find that with worship resources, devotional, and other seasonal writing–music, Scripture, reading prayers from that season, and other more research-oriented resources can help orient me to the season I’m writing. I’m grateful for your personal Easter–we all need many resurrection moments in our lives. Your writing is a gift to the church and beyond.
Your connection of all these events, Christmas, Easter, and udon noodles flows through the backstory of being with your mother in her suffering. Just as we love Jesus as God when he chooses to enter into an “event” on earth, so our human suffering and our strongest human loves partake in the divine when we remember loved ones during the high holy seasons of the church. One friend this week lost his mother on Good Friday. This holy day will never be the same for him again.
Yes, Shirley, that was a time of Lent for the church and for me personally too. For those like your friend who have lost loved ones on holy days, I’m sure there is an intensify and new depth of meaning to their experience. May you have a meaningful and blessed Easter.