On November 29th, we began together a very special time of the year: Advent! In the traditions of the church year, we celebrate the coming of Christ more than just a day, but as an intentional process. It’s so intentional that we take four Sundays to prepare for it. We light one candle each Sunday as we go.
As we prepare, we do things that many seem a bit out of step with our culture.
We don’t read the Christmas story all month-long. We don’t promote consumerism. We wait until Christmas Eve to sing Christmas songs.
And as we do these things, we talk about uncluttering our lives just a little. We read texts that help us understand more about what it means to wait and know what Christ’s presence will look like when he comes. And, we sing hymns about this process of hoping, preparing and most importantly waiting.
It is difficult to restrain our joy because yes, Jesus was born a long time ago and we know we can celebrate his birth any time of the year. And, though it seems that Advent would be a great time to go at the pace of everybody else and sing the beloved “Jesus is born” hymns, we restrain ourselves.
We do so because we believe that this is Advent’s gift to us: patience in our waiting, peace in our hoping, and joy in our love that finds its true home. And, we believe that if we just hurried ahead and celebrated Christmas now, that we would miss out on what this journey has to teach us.
So, my Washington Plaza friends, if you miss your dose of Christmas carols for the next three weeks, keep with me. We’ll have plenty of time to sing them on Christmas Eve and in the season of Christmastide that follows.
There just is something character shaping singing “O Come O Come Emmanuel” in the meantime as we light the candles and wait.