I enjoy asking people what kinds of things they look forward to during the holidays. "We buy lots of presents," one friend told me. "I eat way too much," said another. One honest friend said, "December is the the loneliest month of the year for me. So many expectations and I’m mostly an emotionally confused basket case."
Here’s how James Kiefer describes a religious community started by Nicholas Ferrar. Note the last line of Kiefer’s description.
Nicholas Ferrar, born in 1592, was the founder of a religious community that lasted from 1626 to 1646. After Nicholas had been ordained as a deacon, he and his family and a few friends retired to Little Gidding, Huntingdonshire, England, to devote themselves to a life of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (Matthew 6:2,5,16). They restored the abandoned church building, and became responsible for regular services there. They taught the neighborhood children, and looked after the health and well-being of the people of the district. They read the regular daily offices of the Book of Common Prayer, including the recital every day of the complete Psalter. (Day and night, there was always at least one member of the community kneeling in prayer before the altar, that they might keep the word, "Pray without ceasing.") They wrote books and stories dealing with various aspects of Christian faith and practice. They fasted with great rigor, and in other ways embraced voluntary poverty, so that they might have as much money as possible for the relief of the poor.
"Good Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by the power of your Holy Spirit, give us a desire to look beyond ourselves, just this once…"