Week 2: Peace
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. The season feels a bit different this year, to be sure. No large gatherings. No travel plans. Still, there are presents to buy and wrap and ship. There are cookies to bake and trees to decorate. There are gifts to make and cards to send. There is the pressure to figure out some new, COVID-friendly activities and traditions so that Christmas isn’t ruined.
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 decorating the house and baking. I love buying and making gifts for people. And I frequently abandon NPR for the all Christmas music station this time of year.
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.)
So I go back to a concept I learned about in 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.”
Except instead of “Sabbathly,” this time of year I think about how I can do things “Advently.”
The shopping. The baking. The crafting. The planning. 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 the days before Christmas hold for you, I pray you will live them Advently.
(Adapted/updated from 2012)