Advent means “coming,” a season where we remember that we stand, sit and kneel between two concepts: preparing for the yearly remembrance of the first coming of our Lord and preparing for him to come again.
Advent is also the season of waiting. Children are waiting for Christmas to come. For many adults, however, Christmas comes all too quickly. But the waiting, the longing for the one who will wipe every tear and restore creation, that can seem a very long wait indeed.
In Advent we recognize that, while we wait, God meets those who are broken, hurting and longing for a way out. Advent reminds us that in the midst of the “not yet,” in between the manger and the magnificent, God invites us to make something new. We do not wait in vain, work without purpose. Nor do we walk alone.
Therein lies our hope. Not that suffering is ignored or unimportant, but it is not the end, not the will of God, and God will prevail in renewing creation. Death will be no more, mourning and crying will be no more.
And so we wait, work and walk, with hope and expectation. We attend to the places where light shines, however faintly in the darkness, offering ourselves to be light in the dark places where God calls us to shine.
Advent will also usher in some changes in worship: the altar party will enter during the prelude/voluntary. Our corporate singing will begin when all are gathered together so that our collective focus may be on praising God. At the 9 AM service, we return to invited prayers of the people, providing a bit more space for prayerful reflection. At all services we will hold announcements to the end, just before the dismissal, enabling more room for uninterrupted worship.
I know that any change can be bumpy, but we will try it and see how it supports our praying together as we wait.
It is my hope that you will find space for reflection and contemplation in the various opportunities for worship at All Saints’.