I fell into a trap last week. “Really? Already?” Advent is around the corner? That’s what everyone says, isn’t it? That we can’t quite believe that Christmas is coming. And the realization that it is almost always comes with a stressed rush of things to do, whether we recite them or not, and a rise to the anxiety level. Well, I’m climbing out of that trap this week.
And into Advent.
In her wisdom, the Church has given us this imaginative season. Christmas is coming, Christmas will come with all the cultural noise of the holidays. There will be twinkling lights and too much music, too few songs, too much food. But before all that, (and yes, in the midst of all that, too, because consumer Christmas has started already, hasn’t it?) there is Advent. Advent. An excuse and a calling to sit still and practise waiting.
We need to be still to remember the story. To remember, too, that we are the storied people.
We are the people who read the old words.
We light the candles.
Week by week.
We can learn to do these things again.
Last week, I bought a German birthday candle ring. It’s made up of four arched sections of plain alder wood . Each section has space for three candles, but because we’ll be using it as a table advent wreath and only need four candles, I bought plugs for the extra candle holes. These are slit on the top – something like placecard holders might be – so we can use them to stand something up. And that something is part of our practice of waiting.
Each week, we’ll decorate our ring. Hope, Peace, Joy, Love. With words and pictures and plenty of felt and cardboard, we’ll make something together to focus our waiting. It’s just a little idea – a scaled down version of our mobile from a couple of years ago. My hope is that, as we sit together and light the candles, one by one, the promises of God will be among us and we will learn a little more what it means to sit and wait for hope, peace, joy and love.
This week, we sit with Isaiah, that mighty poet of waiting days. He sings to us his wonderful image of the Church that will be – visible and welcoming to all.
“the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it.”
This Church won’t be a gathering place for the holidays or a stopping place for life’s rituals. It will rise among us like a mountain – a place we would line-up to climb – and a place of great discipleship.
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
The Word of the Lord will come and teach us. We wait for that day, and in our waiting, learn. We light candles and in their light, we see more clearly. We sit. And learn to wait.
I believe that the Church is called to sing her waiting Advent songs as the world rushes past. I believe these songs are gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love.
And I do believe that Christmas is coming.
Let us walk in the light of the Lord!