I have been thinking a lot about Advent this year. Many argue that Advent is primarily a season of repentance – we hear scripture lessons about John the Baptist and the call to repent. In fact, many have called Advent a mini-Lent.
But this year, I am not feeling it. Do not get me wrong, I almost always feel a need to repent of my manifold sins, but in seasons of repentance, I tend to become sober and somber. And this Advent, I cannot seem to force myself into somberness. I am just too excited.
Last year I did not really get to enjoy Advent too much. Advent One was my last Sunday at Christ Church Christiana Hundred. I was a mess of emotions – deeply sad to be leaving Christ Church and overjoyed to be joining St. Margaret’s. Before we could blink, movers and packers came and we were sitting in a roomy house full of boxes and a disoriented two-year old. We managed to find our Christmas boxes and throw up some decorations as I jumped into to work on Advent Three. But everything was foreign and new. Even having our “stuff” in the Rectory did not make it feel like home yet. There was a way in which that season felt quite lonely.
A year later, Advent is very different. The Rectory feels like home, and everything feels so much more familiar – where the tree goes, where the nativities go, where the Advent calendar goes. Our daughter is more aware at age three, and so the anticipation of Advent, and even the short devotionals with our Advent Calendar, is more meaningful. And, this Advent, I am preparing for our Annual Meeting.
Now, you might think an Annual Meeting is the perfect time to be somber – who really likes Annual Meetings anyway? But as I have been shaping the Meeting with our Vestry, I find that I am super excited about the Meeting. We are going to use our time to celebrate what has been a truly incredible year and to think forward and dream about what can be. The planning alone has reminded me of what an incredible journey this first year has been and how much we have to anticipate.
And so, this year, my Advent really is a season of hopeful anticipation. We will still make room for stillness of the Lord, but for me, that stillness is full of happy expectation. We will still simplify our liturgies, but the promise of what is coming keeps creeping in like rays of light. We will still repent of our sins, but the joy and promise of our forgiveness is within reach. I am afraid this mini-Lent will be full of smiles – and this year, I am grateful for that!