Rector's Rhetoric - December 2013
We’ve just received our first dramatic weather change, a blue norther that’s chased just about everything into dormancy. Whatever green hue remained on my lawn during October is now officially gone and the dead of winter is quickly settling in. I’m not the worst complainer about such things. Yes, it’s cold and dark and windy and lifeless-looking outside, but we know that this gloom is only temporary. We know this because we’ve experienced it so many times before. Within the unpredictable nature of each day, we can still appreciate the larger more predictable rhythms and promises of life that come our way.
Speaking of seasonal changes, I don’t know what your favorite church season is, but I would have to think that Advent ranks somewhere at the top. After the seemingly endless number of Sundays following Pentecost, a change in color and theme is a welcomed relief. By Church standards, it is the beginning of a new year, but unlike the secular new year, Advent begins rather quietly. Short (4 weeks before Christmas), Advent is a time set aside for both waiting and preparation, but not the kind of preparation that the commercialization of Christmas demands of its many devotees. As we wait, we are preparing our hearts for the coming of a Savior.
As you’ll soon see, by no means is this quiet season a passive one, a season without voice. You’ll hear plenty of bellowing from John, the clear and hope-filled message of Mary’s Song. Children will dress in their bathrobes and tinseled halos telling us stories of wise men and shepherds, evil kings and angelic messengers. “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” What will that mean to you as Jesus is born again into a world of sin and death? Born into your life? What kind of hallowing, what rearrangement of priorities will be necessary to welcome him?
As much as anything, I just don’t want you to get steamrolled this year by the Christmas machine. It’s so easy to do. It’s already threatening Thanksgiving family celebrations by store openings a day early. I’m all for gift giving and saving money, but sometimes you just have to say “no” when it counts. Advent affords us the opportunity to do things a little differently, and to not get caught up in promises that never live up to the hype. Until He comes . . .
A Blessed Advent and Christmas, FJ+