From the Interim Rector
Advent is upon us! Sunday it begins. Four weeks of preparation. Since at least the 5th century Christians have recognized that the Nativity is too consequential to just let it pop-up on the Church calendar like some random feast day that can be easily overlooked. Therefore we prepare. Unfortunately what too often happens is that all our energies are focused on preparing for Christmas, not the Nativity. Which is different. Long ago our western culture surrendered Christmas to Santa Clause and reindeers and cute elves hammering away at workbenches festooned with all the trimmings for dolls and trucks, hobby horses and train sets. ( Though in this day and age it’s more likely to be circuit boards and connecting cables and Virtual Reality googles.) Don’t get me wrong, I still get choked up watching all the three-handkerchief Christmas movies. And I’ve already been trying to not to let my Christmas spirit get too far ahead of the calendar as Manhattan begins to pull out all the stops and turn the city into one giant pulsating Christmas ornament. However, as the Nativity and Christmas continue to diverge you and I have to be even more intentional in remembering that not only is Jesus the Reason for the Season as our Evangelical sisters and brothers rightly say, Advent and the Nativity have a decidedly critical role to play in our spiritual formation. Preparing and then coming to the manger isn’t just an exercise in remembering the Christmas story or even reenacting it at the annual Christmas Pageant, it’s about birthing the grace and love of God into the world you and I inhabit from one day to the next.
In the Book of Occasional Service there is a Bidding Prayer for Advent.In it is captured the markers of what it means to birth the reality of the Nativity into our lives and into our days. From that prayer we affirm that Advent is a time to “read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God.”It is a time of intentional “prayer for the needs of [the] whole world; for peace and goodwill over all the earth; for the mission and unity of the Church.”It is a time to actively remember the “poor and the helpless; the hungry and the oppressed; the sick and those who mourn; the lonely and the unloved; the aged and the little children.” And, lastly, it is a time to remember those who have preceded us into “a greater light, that multitude no one can number.”
If you begin to feel Christmas starting to crowd the Nativity out of your life this Advent season I would encourage you to ask God to show you how you can birth God’s love, grace, compassion, forgiveness and mercy into the lives of those whom you encounter in your day.In this way, you and I can discover for ourselves that Christmas, the Nativity, is not something that comes but once a year festooned in twinkling lights and shiny garland but that it comes again and again as we are called upon to birth it anew each and every day.