As a pastor, I know that Advent is a time of preparation, a time of pondering, a time of patient waiting. It is a season to contemplate the growing darkness of our days and appreciate the promise held in the darkness of Mary’s womb. It is a time pregnant with the possibility of recognizing and nurturing the presence of God in our world–a time we may be more likely to catch glimpses of the Divine in the most unexpected places.
I know all of this. I live–at least partially–within the holy rhythm of the Christian year.
I am a pastor.
I am also a daughter. And a wife. And a mother. And an aunt. And a friend.
In all of these roles, Advent is also a time of preparation. There are presents to buy and concerts to attend. There are cookies to bake and trees to decorate. There are gifts to make and cards to send. There are events to plan and schedules to untangle.
I honestly love both aspects of Advent. I love my morning Advent pondering and prayer time. I love planning worship services that (I hope) help to awaken a sense of anticipation in people who have grown weary.
I love attending my daughter’s concerts. I love buying and making gifts for people. I can’t wait to bake cookies with my nephews this weekend. And I frequently abandon NPR for the all Christmas music station this time of year.
I love it all. (O.K. I love most of it.) Still, it can be hard to hold everything together; to move through the season with some sense of the holiness behind the hecticness. (Spellcheck says “hecticness” isn’t a word, but I beg to differ.)
Then last night, when my entire evening was spent at the high school for my oldest daughter’s orchestra concert which I loved but it took up the whole evening and I was tired and there were twenty or so other things I could/should have been doing . . . last night I had a thought.
To understand this thought, you should know about a wonderful book by MaryAnn McKibben Dana called Sabbath in the Suburbs. As Dana and her family sought to practice weekly Sabbath for a year, she found that there were a lot of things that came up on any given Sabbath day. Sometimes her family could simply not do those things. Other times, they really had to do them. So if Dana had to do something that did not fit into the traditional idea of Sabbath, she tried to do it “Sabbathly.”
My thought last night at the concert was that I should try to do things Advently.
The shopping. The baking. The crafting. The concerts. The wrapping. The off key car-singing.
Do it all Advently–in the manner of Advent. With an awareness that even this piece of the hecticness is a part of the waiting, a part of the preparation, a part of the longing for and rejoicing in the Divine presence that we feel so keenly in these darkening days.
So whatever these days before Christmas hold for you, I pray you will live them Advently.