By the time you are reading this, Advent will have started. You may have noticed that the church is festooned in blue, that there is a big wreath with candles at the front of the church and we have changed the musical setting of our liturgy. It is quite possible that our worship has a different rhythm to it, too. This first season of the church year often gets lost in the craziness of the holidays and yet, I have grown to appreciate the ways it calls me to slow down, to be still and to ponder what it means to have God with us.
It actually is an excellent time for this season Mary and Elizabeth and their partners were busy doing their life when it was interrupted by God, when they were forced to slow things down and listen, when God’s grace and mercy for them and the world embraced them. It is the same for us—during the frenetic time of the holidays, the season of Advent bids us to slow down and listen, to let the grace and mercy of our God embrace us. It is a time when we “wait” for Jesus. Although Jesus has already come, we eagerly wait for what God would have for us. We wait in anticipation for what God is doing in and through us, not unlike a woman eagerly awaits the birth of her child, knowing something is happening but still waiting for the birth of a child to love.
What is God birthing now in our lives, in our country, in our world? What is it that God is doing that is under the surface? Advent is about this waiting and praying for God to reveal the plan of love God intends for us and the world.
I almost always find music helps bring a concept from head to heart and the richness of Advent has come alive for me in the hymn Unexpected and Mysterious.
Unexpected and mysterious
is the gentle word of grace.
Everloving and sustaining
is the peace of God’s embrace.
If we falter in our courage
and we doubt what we have known,
God is faithful to console us
as a mother tends her own.
In a momentary meeting
of eternity and time,
Mary learned that she would carry
both the mortal and divine.
Then she learned of God’s compassion,
of Elizabeth’s great joy,
and she ran to greet the woman
who would recognize her boy.
We are called to ponder myst’ry
and await the coming Christ,
to embody God’s compassion
for each fragile human life.
God is with us in our longing
to bring healing to the earth,
while we watch with joy and wonder
for the promised Savior’s birth.
Text © 2002 Jeannette M. Lindholm, admin. Augsburg Fortress
Listen at youtu.be/4J5PYcswhMA
Here’s the thing. We are all busy. We all use busy to sometimes keep from pondering our own stuff. Advent invites into a time when we remember God’s faithfulness to us, God’s grace and love in our lives. It reminds us that in our own life there are momentary meetings of eternity and time, of mortal and divine but we often miss them because we are swept up into the world’s demands. God’s compassion and joy are ours, always, and Advent reminds us of that. Finally, as we slow down, we are reminded that we are called to embody God’s compassion for each human life, to bring healing and wholeness to the world and given a glimpse into the kingdom of God and our place in it.
So how do we live into this beautiful season? This season of waiting and hope and expectation? Well, how about committing to a time of silence each day? Doesn’t have to be long—I do 5-minute stints in the morning and am amazed at how that helps me listen throughout the day. Or how about, instead of decorating for Christmas right after Thanksgiving, you decorate with the color of blue (with a pop of silver maybe for contrast), be intentional about the ways you create space for this season. Then change over to Christmas closer to the 25th and keep your decorations up for the whole of the Christmas season, which is 12 glorious days. Or add ritual and reading around your devotion time that allows you to consider what God may be up to. For Everything a Season is a great resource for this and is available in our Resource Center. Find a way to remind yourself of God’s grace and mercy and love and to be still in the midst of the crazy busy world. You will not regret it and may find that your time has been multiplied.
Peace to you during this holy season of waiting.