The day after

John Keble

Secular Christmases, like our lives in general, have a great build up to important events, quite often the event itself does not quite live up to it, and then the day after is a bit of a let-down – and that’s where we are now!  I did think of letting everyone have a day off my musings as a late present, but I promised dear Neo that I would fill the gap, and in thinking about this, it hit me that there is a parallel with our religious life. For those who have had a conversion experience, is there the same sort of anticlimactic feeling, or does the new life into which you are born supersede this? I’d be interested in hearing.

I’ve never had a conversion-experience. From my earliest memories of Sunday school as a little girl, it all made sense to me; God is there, and I have never felt he was not; even when he seemed far away, I knew it was me who was far off, not him – and he was always holding out his hands to receive me when I stopped being a brat. I know some here, and elsewhere, who have had the experience of ‘lapsing’ and coming back, but again, my life has been more mundane. That’s why it would be interesting to hear from you if you have been through a conversion about what happened next.

In many ways, we like dramatic moments in our lives, and we may even need them as an antidote or corrective to the mundane nature of much of what happens to us everyday. But is that the right way to respond to what God has given us? My beloved John Keble provided quite another way of looking at this in a poem written in 1822 which is now a hymn which includes two wonderful closing verses, which are our present on this day after the Christ Mass:

The trivial round, the common task,
will furnish all we ought to ask, —
room to deny ourselves, a road
to bring us daily nearer God.

Prepare, O Lord, in your dear love,
for perfect life with you above;
and help us, this and every day,
to live more nearly as we pray.

He suggests that we can ‘hallow’ – that is make holy – even the meanest thing we do if we will do it for God. There is nothing, however humble it is, that cannot be done well in God’s name – and that can include resting from our labours.

As some of you will know I have not been very well, and for a time it was thought that I might not get well again. I moved from a time of immense busyness through to one of complete inaction – and I’d imagine that the ‘bends’ which deep-sea divers get could be a lit like that – the sudden absence of pressure makes one dizzy and ill. Our modern life – with the Internet ever there – does but little to prepare us for quietness and reflection. That’s why a well-spent Advent can be a blessing, because it helps prepare us for the sudden cessation – even if for many it is replaced by another sort of activity at Christmas.

One feature of the way in which Advent has all but disappeared as a concept in our society, is that we miss the way it paves the way for Christmas. Advent, in the church, is a time of penitence and waiting, which is then succeeded by the joy and the feasting of Christmas – all the way through to the Feast of the Epiphany on 6 January. But I see now that even clergy, after the climactic events of Christmas day itself, take time off and see this as an opportunity for their own holiday. I can see why, but think it a shame, because we have just entered a time of celebrating the most important event there will ever be. So, here at Neo’s, we’ll be remembering some of those celebrations which seem to becoming lost. Christmas is the beginning of our thankful celebrations – not the end. It is a time for giving thanks. And for those of us still clearing up – I recommend Keble’s lines.


About JessicaHof
Anglican Christian, evangelist, survivor, grateful

22 Responses to The day after

  1. First, thank you, I love John Keble! Since I lived in England later as an Irish Brit, and was educated there, I perused the bookshops in London, and I have my share of very old books, and the Sermons for the Christian Year, by Keble is one of my favorite! I also have an American version (2004), from WM. B. Eerdmans, with the forward by Bishop Geoffey Rowell, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe and Emeritus of Keble College, Oxford. He is retired now, and was one of only three as I remember that voted against the ordination of women bishops!

    Liked by 1 person

    • JessicaHof says:

      I love Keble’s poetry – too much neglected today, alas – so glad to have found another enthusiast 🙂 xx


      • Yes, I love Keble! That first sermon (Volume 1, Sermon 12 Advent) Conscience, an Earnest of the Last Judgment, is simply one of Keble’s best! Thanks for I John 3: 20!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Btw, I am surely one of those who has had the so-called classic “Augustinian” Conversion! And this was what I call Pauline in my case, for like Augustine it came with reading Paul and his Letter of Romans! Even my Catholic Irish priest Fr. Sweeny, was from the/a Augustinian order! So providence was with me even then!

    Liked by 1 person

    • JessicaHof says:

      So many people have had that from Romans – Augustine, I think Luther was another, and there’s a couple of others who escape my memory, but I am sure you will know.


      • Yes, we should not forget the Wesley brothers, John and Charles, who were of course always Anglicans! They both were found here! And the Hymns of Charles Wesley are simply profound and a thing of great beauty! As brother John’s so-called Standard Sermons, with his Journal and Letters! It was reading John who first drove me into the Puritan’s, and then reading Robert Monk’s book: John Wesley, His Puritan Heritage. So I blame an Anglican who first pressed me to reading deeply John Calvin! I see John as both something of a Calvinist and Arminian! And of course Luther was even more the influence of both brothers! What depth is the true Body Catholic of Christ, and here of course I speak of the redeemed people!

        Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          Charles’ hymns are the best – I never met one I didn’t love 🙂


        • Amen! My books on the Wesley brothers is quite large, and my list of favorites of Charles hymns, would make a sort of representative book itself! I have a Methodist Hymn book, that dates back to the late 18th century. I have thought of giving it to the American Wesleyan Society? But, I still use it! And it would be hard to part with! Who ever gets my library, will be happy I hope? That’s if people are still reading books! (If I live so long?) 😉

          Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          It sounds a wonderful library, Father 🙂


  3. And it is a well known, with those that know me, that I am quite Reformational and Reformed as an Anglican. Love them Thirty Nine Articles, and of course the life and writings of the Irish Archbishop James Ussher! See too, the Irish Articles 1615. Perhaps my favorite book of Ussher, is his: A Body Of Divinity, Being the Sum and Substance of the Christian Religion. I have a newer 2007 edition, with the Introduction by Dr. Crawford Gribben, who was at one time at the University of Manchester.
    I could write my share of thoughts on so-called Conversion, or what I call Regeneration! Simply the New Birth is as John 3: 3.. one “born from above, by God”! And whether it happens in youth or later, or as an outgrowth when one realizes they know and love God In Christ, it is GOD ordained! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • JessicaHof says:

      That would be interesting Father 🙂


      • I dug up my copy of Keble’s: The Psalter of Psalms of David, (1839) Awesome!.Btw Keble was of course a Tractarian, and when John Henry Newman went to “Roman” Catholicism in 1845, it threatened the continuation of the Oxford Movement, and Keble and E.B. Pusey managed by their persistence to keep the movement alive. Btw Pusey too is worth the read, see his Parochial and Cathedral Sermons, (1882). He has a sermon on Conversion, (Sermon II)… “Man was made for God.” in the first line, Amen!

        Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          I love Keble and Pusey, they have had a huge influence upon my staying an Anglican. Yes, I know that Pusey sermon and love it 🙂 xx


  4. And btw dear Jessica, YOU are a Christian and writer, that can get to the depth of Christ and Christology! Thanks! Keep rock’in on! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • JessicaHof says:

      Oh, thank you, SO much Father – that means a great deal to me. 🙂 xx


  5. And here is a link people might like…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. the unit says:

    As I’ve said I enjoy your discussions and studies. I’ve had only rudimentary upbringing so can’t add to it. Just reiterate what I’ve said before…

    Liked by 1 person

    • @Unit:That’s really the great thing about the essence of the Christian life, it is much more than the intellect, important as it is to degree, our life in God In Christ is “existential”, or simply the existence of Christ in us, the actuality of Him: “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Col. 1: 27) And of course this is mental but also spiritual, and always by faith! And often faith is hard for the mere intellectual mind, but Christ is also very simple, and asks for child like trust. Thank God for this!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Christianity is not rocket science, but faith in God in Jesus Christ! Sometimes we “theolog’s” make faith a scholastic science, and I like logic and scholasticism, but I must not forget the end verses the means! Preaching to myself! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • The core of Christian religious doctrine is always simply Christ, in Creation, Fall, and Rebirth! But finding the Transcendent God is also always above US! We look-up and away from ourselves to HIM!


    • JessicaHof says:

      Thank you 🙂 xx


  7. Reblogged this on My Daily Musing.


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