Wednesday, December 03, 2008
I have stumbled into Advent not really prepared.
Can I blame it on my gall bladder surgery?
Didn't think so.
Part of what is going on is lots of illness in the congregation. Illness means visits, and visits mean time not in the office writing sermons and preparing worship. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Being with people in these moments, in these transitions, is absolutely some of the best, holiest stuff I get to do. Still... I had that unsettled feeling on Sunday, that I was not quite on my game. And in addition to planning, you know, church every week (and trying to get a bit ahead of it as well), I am also working with folks to plan things for next year-- training for church officers, nominating committee matters, welcoming the new classes of deacons and elders. And then there are my Presbytery obligations (which are big).
It's a shame. I love this season, perhaps, more than any other in the year. I love how countercultural Advent is, asking us to-- repent, which is to say, turn away from the things that enslave us, bind us, keep us from being awake and fully present. I love Advent music... there are about six different recordings of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" that haunt me, and I play them rather than Christmas carols just as long as I possibly can.
I love the darkness of this time of year. So many people I know complain bitterly about the time change, when it is suddenly dark at 5 pm or even earlier. I love this, coming home in the dark even when it's early, the warmth of the lights inside the houses as I drive by.
I love the longing Advent evokes... the hope for we don't even know what, exactly. You don't have to be a churchy person to get that. We are all longing for something intangible and life-changing.
And I love my own Advent observances. My wreath (which is not yet). Lighting a candle and reading evening prayer (which I've done every night but last).
I suppose Advent is here whether I feel prepared or not, whether I feel "on top of it" or not. (Though, judging by the apocalyptic nature of all the readings, I suspect being "on top of it" is an illusion at best.)
Light the candles. Simmer down. Let it be what it is. That's the best I can do this year.