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Advent Musings

The Rev. Lori Walton

If I had to define a specific moment that I fell in love with The Church, I would have to say it was when I awakened to the seasons of the calendar – of Lent, Easter, Pentecost and so on.  The awareness brought into consciousness the movement from one to the next, the changing light in the sanctuary and in the sky, the elevation of a dove, the bowing down to an infant, the smudge of death on a forehead, the emptiness of a tomb that held meaning for eternity.  The Church lives its life in these moments, moving from image to symbol, from action to silence and back again.  It holds tight to these cycles defined not only on a calendar but in the color, music, and movement of worship.  It is these seasons that give shape to our spiritual lives.

The season of Advent is one of waiting with bated breath the coming of the Christ.  It is a season as rich as those of Easter or Lent or other.  Yet unlike the others, it is the one in most glaring and direct conflict with the world.  How does one wait in anticipation while being pushed to get it all done in time for Christmas?  How does one live in the mystery of an empty manger while being bombarded with messages of filling up the shopping cart?  How does one remember that this is not the Season of Giving, but it is instead the Season of Receiving – of receiving the greatest gift ever given – the gift of God made flesh in the world?  How does one do it?

Intentionally.  With purpose, and perhaps with a bit of rebellion.  Each year we run though the same cycle – culture tells us one thing and the church tells us another and it seems that there is always a tension, a pulling back and forth.  I’m not sure it is a struggle that will ever subside.  There will always be “holiday” commercials, and there will always be the voice of the church telling us to slow down; an instruction that seems impossible at times.

This is the Season of Advent.  It is ours to claim and live in to.  We do not need permission from the world to slow down and wait.  We simply need permission from ourselves.  We have much to do, for our families, for our community, and yes, even for our church.  But at the end of each day, the only thing left to do will be to take off our shoes.  And if there is no other time that can be found to simply wait and acknowledge the coming of the Christ Child, then let this be it.

Take of your shoes, pause, and remember how Holy the ground on which you stand is, wherever you might be.  Christ will be born and our lives will be blessed, and the Holy ground on which we stand will always be firm.  May these Advent and Christmas days hold the wonder and beauty found in a newborn baby.  May you know the gift that supercedes all.