Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wild Advent (Warning: She Waxes Theological!)

Advent--the four week long season of the Church Year that rolls around every year before Christmas--is supposed to be the time to prepare for Christ's coming; meaning, on the most obvious level, that we're getting ready for Christmas. Great. Kids in churches are getting ready for Sunday School programs while they also are waiting like crazy for Santa. We set up our Christmas trees, either by dragging the big box up from the basement or by bringing home a natural, formerly live tree tied to the roof of the car. Christmas music is everywhere, from the aisles of Walmart to risers set up in school cafeterias, where the events are called Holiday Concerts.

But there's a more interior level, for those who pay attention to the lessons from Scripture we read in church on any of the four Sundays before Christmas, and most people aren't very comfortable with it. We're preparing for Christ's coming, yes indeed, but not as a baby in Bethlehem. We're supposed to be preparing for Christ's second coming at the end of time. And if we think we're off the hook on that one, since none of us really expects to be around at the end of time, we're sadly mistaken. Sure, we're supposed to be ready for that second coming; but I think the coming of Christ we're supposed to be prepared for is much more intimate than that. This "second coming" is your own personal death and mine, when the Lord closes our eyes for the last time, when our hearts still, when the blood coursing through our veins no longer carries life to every reach of our bodies. When Jesus comes to take us "home" at the end of our days.
"Oh, that second coming!"

The thing is, working in the Church, I'm torn and I'm really tired. It's ever so much more fun to say that Advent is about decorating the church building, practicing music for Christmas Eve, or having tea with the Women's Group with a smile on my face. But the reality is that I am spending way more time planning special things than I am sitting with those whose own personal end times are immanent. The reality is that it's the time of year I walk around with a lump in my throat, I don't sleep well, and I don't feel well much of the time, either. Oh, and then there's my own family's Christmas to think about. (When was I going to do that?)

Working on the last phase of Eddie's Wake is a rare thing during Advent, as is writing in this blog. But I woke up before 5:30 this morning, so I wrapped up in my bathrobe and blanket and am sitting next to icy windows to tell you I haven't forgotten about you. Next time I'll share a poem I wrote nearly twenty years ago and maybe bit more of the novel. May your preparations for Christmas be meaningful and filled with peace. Thanks for reading!
P.S. The photo above was taken from the window by my desk yesterday morning, after an all night snowstorm.


Sharon said...

I can't wait for your novel to come out. Pastor Amy has been reading your stories at our Advent Service and I love them. Keep up the great work.

C. Peterson said...

Thanks for reading, Sharon! Stay tuned for publication announcements...