It was the first day of Advent today, in my new congregation. There were shades of blue everywhere, some deep, some aqua, and there were pink and blue candles, and I chanted the liturgy. In some ways, the sense that it is advent again is comforting for me. It is advent, and there is a deep resonance of familiarity, like opening the door and seeing an old friend.
So much is different this year. I am in a different state. It is raining, not snowing. I am in a different sanctuary, one with a balcony up to the choir. The rhythms of the contemporary service are different as well, with some songs I know well and some that are new to me. We are all learning, including me.
It was the first day of Advent today, in my new congregation. It still feels new, to me, and perhaps, to them, as well.
For some reason it seemed like a good idea to use the stories of Luke, chapter 1, for the preaching texts this month. It's not what the lectionary says that I should do, and I know that the lectionary is wise. But I have always loved the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and how Zechariah was struck dumb when he didn't believe the Angel Gabriel's message. All of Luke 1 is about being pregnant -- being pregnant with hope, bearing God into the world.
I want my congregation to be pregnant with hope, to believe that they are bearers of God to a weary world.
I tried something new today: well, two things, really. They were not my ideas, actually. We gave out crocus bulbs to everyone in church today. I told them to plant them in a pot, or in the ground, and wait, and watch, and hope. Besides lighting candles, it is something we can do at Advent.
The other thing we did was make a bookmark. The bookmark had a word on it: Expecting. On one side of the bookmark was a definition of the word "Expecting." On the other side of the bookmark was a short prayer.
Next week's word is "Trusting". In case you are curious.
It was the first day of Advent today, in my new congregation. And I am so busy doing things, and I heard the message that it is God who is doing a new thing -- in us, and in me. I am so busy trying to figure out what the next right thing might be, and I heard that it is God who is bringing new life to us, and in us.
There was a baptism this morning. A little boy was splashed with water and the word, received the burning candle. "Let your light shine," we told him.
Light your candle. Bury the crocus bulbs. Walk in the rain, or the snow, and pray, and do the next thing, and find out if it is right, or not.
Ask for forgiveness. Start again. Open your hands. Rest. Play. Sing.
God is making all things new.