From the Interim Rector - December
Waiting. Preparation.The traditional themes of Advent seem to take on new meaning as we wait and as we prepare for a post-Covid world. I imagine all of us have given up any expectation that that post-Covid world will return us to what we knew before we ever heard of a new coronavirus called Covid-19 or ever imagined that we’d all have to learn how to properly wash our hands (and that many times a day) and be required to wear a mask when we are out and about. All the ways in which this virus will continue to restructure society and our own day to day living are only now beginning to come into focus as a vaccine appears to be heading our way. So we wait. But our waiting is not idle time passing from one day to the next. Our waiting is active. Engaged. Responsive to the ever changing reality it seems each day brings. Remote learning. Blended learning. Working from home—for those whose jobs allow it. Going into work—for those who are essential workers— not feeling as safe as you would like, but knowing the job must be done. Knowing the job must be kept. And, perhaps the most emotionally laden, Christmas family traditions that this year must be set aside or experienced in new ways.
The waiting we are called to in Advent is also active. Engaged. Advent waiting calls us to take time (notice not find time, as we rarely ever do). Perhaps, for many of us, the idea of taking any time not already consumed with managing as best we can during these relentless Covid-days seems like a step to far. The time just cannot be taken unless it means less sleep. Less time with the people and children that need our time. Less time to just try and stay sane in the midst of it all. Yet, what I remind myself is that the time Advent calls us to take isn’t measured by the minute or hour hands on a clock, but by the authenticity of that moment when, awaken to the possibilities, we discover the extra-ordinary in the ordinary activity of our day. We discover God has broken into our day, or perhaps our night, and suddenly we know as we have not known before. God is with us. Emmanuel. And that encounter leaves us changed. A lot or just a bit. It doesn’t matter for the change is real. You feel it. You know it.
This is the waiting Advent calls us to, even as we our temporal lives are waiting for a vaccine with the hope that despite some heavy odds, our lives may get back to some semblance of what they once were. So we prepare. As John the Baptist calls out in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” As the bridesmaids are called to prepare to meet the bridegroom in Jesus’ parable of the Second Coming. As the servants are called to prepare for the return of the landlord in a parallel parable Jesus offers. Our Advent preparation comes in many ways. Mother Elise’s wonderful Reverse Advent Calendar is one of those ways that having accumulated more than we need we can give it away so that others in need may have those needs supplied. We prepare by taking stock of unhelpful or unhealthful patterns of behavior or attitudes that have crept in through the course of this very stress filled and unimagined year. We prepare the way of the Lord by preparing ourselves to meet him, not just in a manger, but as he heals, as he raises up, as he teaches, as he surrenders, as he dies and as he conquers death and rises so that you and I may rise with him into a life more abundant and free. Like the in-breaking of the extraordinary into the ordinary that is a part of our waiting, so our preparations may come in a flash, in a moment when suddenly we see as we have never seen before and trust as we have never trusted before. The key to our Advent waiting and preparation is to be open. Open to all that God has for each of us. We have much to prepare for as we anticipate our post-Covid lives. And while much of what we may need to prepare for we cannot know today, the promise of Advent is that even in the midst of a pandemic new life comes forth beckoning us to come and see for ourselves as the shepherds did so long ago, “this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” (Luke 2:15)
May your Advent be blessed with every good and gracious gift as together we wait. As together we prepare.