Maybe it is because I never celebrated it in the churches of my childhood, so I still feel new at the practice.
Maybe it is because there is a strangeness is waiting for the coming of the Christ child when we know that Christ has already been born.
Maybe it is because the themes of Advent are often not concrete but of a “come, let’s dream” nature, and I’m much more of a concrete kind of girl.
But last year, during our Advent Vespers services (which we’ve started as a new Washington Plaza Wednesday night tradition), my foundation in Advent seemed a little more sure for the first time. Layers of Advent’s mystery began to unravel a little more. Through communal discussion, I realized that Advent’s calling is about newness. It’s about beating the world to celebrations of “Happy New Year” and reorienting ourselves into the world order of the kingdom of God.
There’s a reason the Advent words are love, peace, hope and joy: we all need more of these things in our lives if we are ever going to attempt anything new. It’s good to start of the New Year thinking about them . . . .
I’ve been particularly drawn lately (again) to the writings of Henri Nouwen. This reading encouraged me again to think about the theme of calling as associated with Advent. Maybe it is true, that Advent is calling all of us to something new. And, maybe that something new is closer to our heart than we ever imagined.
Nouwen writes in The Inner Voice of Love:
When you discover in yourself something that is a gift from God, you have to claim it and not let it be taken away from you. Sometimes people who don’t know your heart will altogether miss the importance of something that is part of your deepest self, precious in your eyes as well as God’s. They might not know you well enough to be able to respond to your genuine needs. It is then that you have to speak your heart and follow your deepest calling.
Let us be God’s gift to the world this Advent season! Who knows what the New Year will bring?
If you are in town this week, join us at 7 pm tonight in the sanctuary for our Advent Vesper service!