Here’s my sermon from this morning.  I don’t normally post them.  But it relates to how I’m doing Advent:

At the Bible Fellowship Group this past Monday, as we reflected on this morning’s gospel, I had a small realization.  The gospel is about the coming end times, all the stuff that will happen, the things that are always happening, that are signs of the coming end.  And I realized that my work experience fit right in with this.

In past years, I’ve talked about Mary and Joseph, waiting and preparing for their baby.  And I’ve suggested that Advent is a time when we too can prepare for their baby to come into our lives – though not so much as a baby, but as our Lord.  We can clear things out and make space in our lives and be ready to welcome our God.

This year it hit me that something analogous has always happened this time of year for me at work (and in fact, in college and at seminary).  Thinking back to when I was a programmer, there were always any number of year end projects that had to be completed.  And they really had to be completed before Christmas, because too many people would be unavailable to make it realistic to finish a major project between Christmas and the end of the year.

So there was always a sense of being underwater and paddling as fast as you could to come up for air in the weeks before Christmas – and the knowledge that things would pretty much come to a standstill once Christmas did come.  Major projects and deadlines could come at any time.  But there were always things that needed to be done before the end of the year (or the beginning of the new year).  So you knew these would be busy times.  There would be a lot to get settled before things came to an end.  And end they would.

I was on the quarter system in college and seminary.  So all my papers and all my finals had to be completed before Christmas break.  There was always so much to get ready.  And as a priest, do I need to say it, there is always a lot to get ready as we come up on Christmas.

This feels like Advent to me:  being under the gun and needing to get things ready before the deadline comes – waiting for Jesus to come and trying to get my life in order before the day he arrives.

It’s an experience of Advent that seems to fit right in with our culture.  What’s happening in our lives day to day fits right in with what’s happening in our church calendar.  There’s a kind of end of the world vibe in all this – even amidst the celebrations.

 

But I’ve had a very different experience of preparing for Advent this year.  It’s been a unique experience for me, and I’ve liked it.  Circumstances conspired.  Or maybe God had a finger in it.

Usually Anne and I (and whatever kids are around) have gone to LA to be with family for Thanksgiving.  That didn’t happen this year.  Now that Zea’s no longer with us, our Thanksgiving Day service has come back to me.  So we knew we weren’t going this year.

Then Glenn’s dad died.  And he and Audrey were under the gun to get his stuff taken care of, as well as pack themselves, in time for him to start his new job tomorrow.  And I’m not sure if it has to do with the furloughs or not.  But Anne had the whole week off.  So she decided to fly out to Wichita, to help them take care of stuff.

And wouldn’t you know it.  Thea had this time off, and no time off at Christmas, so she was going to LA for Christmas anyway.  And it turns out it cost no more to fly back to LA than to Sacramento.  So Anne was able to arrive in LA for the Thanksgiving Day family feast, and drive back with Thea.  And that was better for both of them.

Plus Anne found a book of daily reflections for Advent (with further reflections through Epiphany) at Diocesan Convention, that she gave to me.  And I’d determined to use this book for Advent, but to start a week early, so that I could use what I learned during Advent.

So Anne left last Sunday, right after church.  And I was off last Sunday, and read Morning Prayer at home, and then read the extra lessons for the Advent book, and read the Advent book.  And I’ve spent most of this past week alone – aside from work.

And during that time I’ve done my daily office, plus the Advent book, plus some work with the Anglican Rosary, plus daily exercise on an elliptical machine that was delivered Tuesday.  And I’ve done a little writing.  And I’ve done a bit of reflecting.  And I feel like I’ve entered Advent in a new way.

Mind you, I may lose this as we look for a new church musician and make all of our preparations here in church, and at home with my family, for our celebration of Christmas.  Certainly I don’t expect to be able to maintain this sense of being apart with God the same way through Christmas.  But I do hope to keep some of the flavor of this experience throughout the remainder of Advent – which officially begins today.

I’ve got to tell you, it’s been good.  I feel a better sense of connection with my God.  I feel more grounded.  I feel relaxed.  It’s a good way to start this season.  It’s been a blessing in my life.  And I wish something of this experience of Advent for you, in your lives, in this season of Advent which actually begins today.

Seize the moment.  Make it yours, and make it God’s.  Take time in your life and spend it with your God.  Make your life ready for God to be a part of it.

And get ready to really celebrate the true meaning of Christmas this year.

That’s my invitation to you today.

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