What happens when life doesn’t sync up with the seasons? When our world seems filled with joyful laughter and shiny things, and we just don’t feel shiny? Is it possible that the holy can be found both within the holiday mirth, and also within struggle?
We are nearing the final week of Advent. Advent is a season of longing, of anticipation. It is my favorite liturgical season, perhaps because it helps me dream of a world where, as Julian of Norwich said, “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
Sometimes, though, life gets in the way of Advent. These past few weeks I’ve had a pet die and two dear friends become gravely ill. I know some of you have been sick or struggling to figure out work, relationships, and general life stuff. Sometimes when we’re trying to wrap our heads around the present, it’s hard to anticipate a world where Love is the center of life. Longing for transformation gets lost in surviving the worries of now.
One of our biblical stories this week is Joseph’s dream (Matthew 1.18-25). Joseph, being a stand-up guy for his era, plans to “dismiss” his betrothed, the pregnant Mary. He plans to do this quietly, to avoid shaming her and still maintain his honor, since he’s not sure who the father of her baby is. After he makes up his mind, he goes to sleep, and has a dream. An angel appears, telling him not to fear public disgrace, because the child Mary carries will save his people. This story isn’t really about a virgin birth or sexuality, but about God’s communication with Joseph, and the presence of the holy in a human baby. For some wild reason, Joseph pays attention to this dream, and marries Mary – a risky response not anticipated by cultural standards of normalcy. It’s a shining moment where love and courage win – Joseph’s response makes way for the holy in our world.
This week of Advent, we meditate on Love. We remember that Emmanuel means “God with us” – in the midst of life, wherever we are. Love with us, in the midst of sickness. Love with us, in the midst of grief. Love with us, in the midst of tangled relationships. Love with us, in loneliness. Love with us, too, in all that is joyful and good and beautiful, lest we forget that our world is always charged with these things. Wherever we are this Advent, I wonder – how can we tune ourselves to the Holy in our midst? And how might we be changed if this happens?
Join us Sunday morning, 11am, at Kidd Springs Rec Center, and connect with our face-to-face community as we work out what it means to live in Love together. Join us Sunday night, as well, for our early celebration of Christmas Eve hosted by the Shirley’s. There will be Jesus stories and candles and singing and friends. Food, too, if I heard the rumors correctly, so please join us at 6pm Sunday evening, 221 S. Edgefield.
With Advent Longing,