Every Advent, we begin again–starting the church year over, returning to the beginning of the story as we wait for Christ to come into the world. It’s a season of preparation and candlelight, a season of hope and longing for the world to be transformed. We sing old songs while looking towards a future that we can only dream of. While in many ways, this year’s Advent season is a bit brighter than the one we spent last year, we are still waiting for many things…not just Christ’s return, but also the day when we can hold big family gatherings and sing our hearts out together and see the smiling faces under the masks that we wear. I believe that all of these things will come to pass, but not quite yet. And so in Advent, we light our candles and settle in to wait together.
In this season, we are once again partnering with A Sanctified Art for one of their worship series. This year the theme of our Advent – Epiphany season is “Close to Home.” Here is what one of their “pastorists“ (pastor + artist) had to say about the series:
“In developing this series, it has become abundantly clear that the theme of home intersects with the full range of human experience. Home can be soothing and sacred or unsettling and painful. It can be grounding and particular, or it can feel hard to name or pin down. It can be invitational and warm, or it can poke at wounds of exclusion and displacement. For some, home can be the source of war, stolen lands, or economic loss. We navigate this tension of comfort and unsettledness in the season of Advent. In the midst of cheery holiday celebrations, grief and nostalgia may become unwelcome guests. We give thanks for the gifts and blessings of our lives, while longing for the dreams that are not yet realized. We celebrate the closeness of a God who chooses to dwell with us, while remembering what that closeness will cost: Jesus will face displacement, marginalization, suffering, and, ultimately, death. No matter if this season brings great comfort and joy, or hits a bit too close to home, may we remember that God is also just as close.”—Rev. Lisle Gwynn Garrity, Founding Creative Partner
In addition to our Sunday services, I will be bringing back our Wednesday evening prayer services for the season, featuring art and poetry and lots of seasonal music to sing along with at home.
If your winter season is looking like more of a somber Advent purple than a joyful Gaudete pink, I encourage you to join us for our Longest Night service next week, Tuesday, December 21 at 7pm. Instead of a boisterous Christmas service, it’s a quieter and more pared-down celebration that light and change and hope are on their way, even at the solstice, the longest night of the year. If you are carrying any grief or regret or loneliness or disappointment, it can be hard to find a place to lay those feelings down when we are surrounded by glitter and eggnog and caroling. I’ll be leading the service over Facebook Live, so you can join us Tuesday night or come back to it later when you have more time or space for reflection.