I work at a church, which is supposed to be the bearer of this good news of peace and good will, and yet I, and my colleagues and many of our members, spend a good amount of time in Advent planning, implementing, rushing, and filling our schedules with programs, events, gatherings, and tasks.
The fourth Sunday of Advent was shaping up to be what I began thinking of as the “Presbyterian Pentathlon.” The day would contain: worship with our children’s Christmas pageant; a congregational meeting; a reception following worship and the meeting; Youth Group baking and board games; and the all-church caroling party.
Last week as I met with our pastor, Eric, and we strategized and did our part of the planning for the fourth Sunday of Advent, I confessed, “I’m the one who scheduled most of this stuff for this Sunday instead of spreading it out.” But the truth is, Advent fell as early as it could this year, and this fourth Sunday of Advent was not much more busy than previous years’ fourth Sundays are.
And so, starting at 9am yesterday, the day began as children and parents began to gather for the pre-worship rehearsal of their pageant. And it was a lot of non-stop for a lot of good Presbyterians as the day moved along.
Around 4:30pm, we pulled up to our third caroling stop. As we climbed the hill to Willie Ann’s house, she was waiting at her door for us. It was very cold outside, but we waited patiently for Willie Ann to hug and kiss each caroler coming in her door to see her. Willie Ann is 93 years-old, is God’s gift to anyone who knows her, and her hugs and loving words have blessed each one of us time and again. She is not able to come to church anymore and her presence is missed remarkably at each gathering.
So we sang, loudly, and I got a little teary because this was just good for all of our souls and a precious reminder of peace that comes through singing and hugging and spending time with people who love us.
Again Isaiah says,
‘The root of Jesse shall come,
the one who rises to rule the Gentiles;
in him the Gentiles shall hope.’
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:12-13