As if any of us needed to be reminded of how quickly a year can fly by, it is now roughly four and a half days until the beginning of Advent. And though that realization does initially make me wince a little bit, I’m finding that I am also excited.
Growing up, I always loved the season of Advent: the colors, the mystery, the swelling sense of expectation. I loved lighting the candles on the Advent wreath each Sunday, watching the tiny flames wriggle out a dance that seemed to mirror my own anticipation. Even as a young child, I knew something big was coming – something that went beyond the presents under our tree – and that knowledge was thrilling.
Now I am thirty-two and a minister. Consequently, I’m one of the folks who plans out the season’s events weeks and months in advance, the one with intimate knowledge of every little detail from the brand of oil inside the Advent candles to the complaints about which carols should be sung when (and by whom). As ministers, in some ways my colleagues and I are like the Wizard of Oz, directing from behind the curtain with high hopes that the focus of the festivities will never be on us.
This, of course, changes things to a certain extent. Some of the anticipation is lessened when you know precisely what is going to happen next. Sometimes that sense of expectation can get watered down and Advent can become more work than wonder.
So this week, in preparation for both the first Sunday of Advent and a Divine Details essay for Fidelia’s Sisters, I am spending some time thinking about where we clergy-folk find the Divine in the details of this season. What can we do (what do you do?) to keep our eyes open to the holy while we arrange a hundred or so poinsettias in the Sanctuary or edit the bulletin for the eighth time? How can we have hearts awash with wonder while we manage a calendar stuffed with parties, worship services, potlucks, service projects and festivals? Friends, when do you feel most full of anticipation during this busy, busy time?
I’ll be reflecting on these questions during the lull of Thanksgiving. If you come up with anything you’d like to share, please let me know!