Dear Middleway Urban Monastery friends,
Many who have nativity scenes in their homes at this time of year follow certain traditions to commemorate the birth of Jesus. For the purists, this may mean that on the first Sunday of Advent, an empty creche is set up in the middle of the display. Far to one side are the shepherds and their livestock while on the other side are three magi, also called wise men, with their entourage of camels and gifts. Joseph and Mary may be placed somewhere near the empty bed of hay in hopeful expectation, and an angel usually hovers nearby. Jesus, for the serious re-enacters, is hidden as everyone waits. (Our teakwood baby Jesus was tucked behind a book on Nov. 29, then retrieved and gently placed in the manger on Dec. 25.) When baby Jesus appears in the hay bed on Christmas day, Mary and Joseph are brought closer as are the shepherds. Even the cattle and sheep are allowed close enough to sniff the baby. But not the magi. Not yet. They will arrive Jan. 6 for what liturgical churches remember as Epiphany, or the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.
For most, this is where the meticulous movement of figurines ends. Nativity scenes are lovingly boxed and returned to storage until next November. In liturgical churches, however, Epiphany is a season that begins on Jan. 6 and continues for six weeks, which this year will end Feb. 16. During this time, the early life of Jesus is remember through the scriptures to include such occurrences as his being left behind in the temple when he was 12 and also his baptism.
Middleway Urban Monastery has been counting the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany with a daily meditation and carol at 3:30 p.m. on our Facebook page, and these will continue through Wednesday. And, we're excited to say, daily meditations will continue throughout Epiphany.
We also will join with St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 217 W. 26, Bryan, for a Twelfth Night Celebration of carol singing in the parking lot (safely distanced) on Jan. 5 at 5:30 p.m. Epiphany Day on Jan. 6 will be observed through special readings at Morning Prayer, Noonday and Evening Prayer. We hope you'll join us for as many of these events as you can.
Book club to select reading list on Jan. 5.
After a short break for the holidays, our book club will resume Tuesday and use the time to select books to carry us through the seasons of Lent and Easter until the end of May 2021. So if you have a book pertaining to some aspect of spirituality that you'd like to suggest, please join us at 7 p.m., Jan. 5 via zoom. The wonderful thing about this is no matter where you live, you're invited to join us for great discussions and sharing.
Meeting ID: 862 8991 8385 Passcode: 164675
or call in 1 346 248 7799
Reflections: Meditations on Epiphany
Daily meditations on Epiphany will be offered beginning Jan. 7 at 3:30 p.m. These meditations on our Facebook group page offer peaceful visions and a soothing reading by Dr. Amy Thompson from "A Daily Spiritual RX for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany" by Joanna Seibert.
Care for your soul in community
Soul Care Sunday, a monthly gathering with a special topic and discussion, will be Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. via zoom. https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZApf-uhrDosHdciRyYDcIvtPkeGQ99Tom6D Register there and you will be sent a link to the Zoom meeting.
How to Visit Middleway Urban Monastery
If, for whatever reason, you feel "spiritual but not religious," or you no longer have a church or you are just "done" with organized religion, no worries. We do not ask you to join the FB group page in order to participate. Just come to the monastery online as often as you want. We're about providing you space to seek hope, comfort and peace as you explore ways of experiencing God’s love. You're a "member" if you are receiving this newsletter. All are welcome, so share with others you know.
Imagine our Facebook public group page as a physical building. When you enter our URL, facebook.com/groups/TheMiddlewayUrbanMonastery, it is like opening the door of a physical building, because you will find all that is offered there.
Likewise, you can come to our website and explore the offerings, including links to our Twitter and Instagram accounts, if you like those formats and want to follow.
For the time being, our monastery is online only. We plan to eventually offer a physical space in Bryan, Texas. Even then, however, we will continue to offer our prayer times, meditations, centering, contemplation and various workshops and retreats online and led by spiritual directors and leaders around the Bryan-College Station, Texas area. Participants are welcome from around the world.
If you know others who would like to "join," ask them to subscribe to our weekly newsletter by going to https://www.middlewayurbanmonastery.org/contact and entering their email address at the Subscribe button on the lower right.