I walked through the office yesterday and caught a glimpse of our Ministry Assistant, Amy Cook, surrounded by pages and pages of an Advent booklet for our kids that she was putting together. Of course I needed to snap a photo and share it with the world on Facebook to celebrate not only her fearless dedication to her work, but to mark the impending start of Advent!
Perhaps you are one who has already decked your halls, bought and wrapped all your Christmas presents, and made your annual visit to Santa, before even the month of December starts. Or perhaps you’re like us who have a Christmas tree with nothing on it, and a living room floor still scattered with needles after it toppled over in the wee hours of the night a few days ago! Even still, you may be one for whom the holidays are deeply challenging and hard, and you dread these weeks that lie ahead filled with holly and happiness.
Particularly for those who resonate with the darkness of the season, we gathered last night in the chapel for our annual “Blue Christmas” service of healing and hope. In it, we gave voice to the dark places of our lives: the broken relationships in our families, grief and loss that hits in unexpected ways, loneliness particularly during these moments of glad tidings, addictions and fears that bind us. And into those shadows, we read scriptures of comfort and promise. We sang hymns of hope for all of God’s children. We were nourished at the table of Love, anointed with words of prayer, and surrounded by candlelight which reminded us of the light of Christ that pierces even the blackest night. Together, we held space for grief and suffering, waiting for the One to come and meet us there.
This Sunday, we mark the beginning of the waiting season, where four weeks of Advent will ready us to receive the Christ Child. Our children hands will grasp those beautiful booklets and their feet will travel from station to station at their Advent Workshop, as they learn about Love made flesh in the form of a baby. Many in our community will gather Sunday afternoon to hear the good news as sung and proclaimed throughout the centuries in Handel’s Messiah: “Hallelujah! The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever!”
But in it all — decorated and delighted, harried and heavy-laden, overwhelmed and overlooked — we will become the ones with whom God chooses to pitch a tent and dwell. And that is a gift that’s worth the wait!
Together in the work of Love,