My new goal for December, it seems, is to be in worship with you all. After a marvelous (and rare) Sunday off December 1, and then a snow day this past Sunday, I am climbing the walls, ready to be back in the sanctuary on Sunday morning. Advent is my favorite season in the church—call me a sentimentalist, if you must—because even though it’s one of the most immutable aspects of the church life (Hope, Peace, Joy, Love, Christmas; repeat; repeat; repeat) it says so much. So right now I’m drowning in anticipation and preparation for Sunday, and maybe the ice-pocalypse did something to help remind me what the season is all about.
Of course, because the church year starts over about a month before the calendar year, Advent also becomes an important and sometimes rushed time generally, and it may appear even more so because of our impromptu closure. This Sunday, December 15, the Board meets to approve next year’s budget, affirm the slate of 12 new deacons, 4 elders, 4 officers (and sing with me here) and a trustee in a pear tree, and also make plans for the major congregational meeting December 22, where we will vote to accept the budget and new leadership. Then that night is the last Jazz Vespers of 2013 (with added horn section!!!), then two days later it’s Christmas Eve, and before you know it we’re together in 2014. (Yes, there is worship on December 29. Yes, you ought to come if you’re in town. Yes, it will be a casual but holy experience.)
And then the year starts over, and we keep on keeping on. We meet new people, we welcome them, we invite them to be a part of our community. We see old friends, we keep up with them, we serve them, let them serve us, and together serve the needs of the world. We challenge oppressive systems and stupid powers, we affirm the beauty of creation and the hope of tomorrow, we seek the Spirit in our everyday lives and see our everyday lives affected by the Spirit. We gather together for Easter, for Pentecost, for some ordinary Sunday in August. We pray, we eat, we study, we sing, we eat, we talk, we laugh, we eat. And in this, we see the Kingdom of God, the Holy Reign, God’s Kin-dom—whatever you want to call it, you know it when you see it—we see it continue to break into the world. And then we hit Advent. We stop and reflect, we pause and regroup, we halt and begin to anticipate again. Together, we seek the life everlasting that’s in this finite, wonderful, frightening, beautiful, amazing and off-beat world. And it’s something I know I’m thankful for every single day. Especially Sundays, which is why I’m climbing the walls.
So, I hope I’ll see you Sunday, as we seek some Joy from our Upside-Down God. And until then, stay warm!