Leaning Into Advent
I find that I must be intentional about experiencing Advent. When I am at my best I let Advent prepare my heart and my life for the coming once again of Jesus, but if I am not careful the four weeks of Advent will pass me by and I will have participated in all the Advent Services and activities without letting the season make a difference in my life. A few years ago I had an Advent experience which graphically reminded me to slow down and breathe deeply.
It was the first Sunday of Advent. As I parked my car I looked at my watch—I was early, but not near as early as I had hoped to be. So many things were running through my mind—the need to put the final touches on the Sunday School lesson I was about to teach, making sure there were enough Alternative Gift Giving catalogs available, getting everything ready for my after worship activities, and then there was the whole month to think about--Advent meetings, programs, and ministries already filled my calendar. I was already stressed and this Sunday was the official beginning of the “contemplative, prayerful, calming, waiting” month we call Advent!
After filling my arms with papers and getting my briefcase, I headed for the church. The truck was parked close to the front door and I saw it out of the corner of my eye. If I keep on walking straight ahead and don’t look their way, maybe they won’t say anything, I thought. Almost to the door and then she leaned out of the window and said "Oh, mam, are they giving out sack lunches today?” I was caught. I walked to the truck and three little heads looked at me from the back seat. “They don’t give them out today, if you come back. . .” I explained. Their faces fell, how could I turn them away?—“I tell you what, I’ll go get you all a lunch, wait right here.”
As I walked into the church I looked around and hoped no one had seen what I almost did. Here I was rushing to begin Advent—this season of wonder and awe when the baby, Jesus, is born anew into our lives. If we are willing! And, here sat the “holy family” in a truck outside the church and I almost missed them.
One poet explains it this way, “When mother is discharged from the hospital you accompany her down on the same elevator with a young couple bringing Baby home. They call to mind the Holy Family until you realize that every family is holy.”
I went to the Baptist Center and found five sack lunches. On the way back to the truck, I thought, “God, don’t let me trip over the Holy Family in my attempt to worship at the altar of a perfect Advent season. Please don’t let me focus so intently on the events of Advent that I miss the people of Advent and their stories.” Marilyn Brown Oden writes, “. . .if we are unaware of our surroundings, we will miss opportunities to serve.”
Advent invites us to open our eyes and ears to those around us—Advent invites us to let “the story” come over us in such a way that we will be willing to reflect the light of God’s love and grace to the “Holy Family” whether they are in a truck or a manger.
Sunday, is the third Sunday of Advent and we will light the pink candle of