Roughly half way through our season of Advent 2015, and I am pausing for a day away from the charge and other clerical.church time.
I love the blogs and series and posts that many of my colleagues are posting through Advent. Pictures, poems, reflections, words-of-the-day. All looks great. I can mostly fight down the twinge that I should be doing a bit better at that sort of thing...
I love the sharing of the carol services (a healthy mixture of Advent & Christmas carols), the school nativities (traditional, modernised, surreal), the parties and social events (not many clergy at those, yet) and all the rest of the build up that this time, from the end of November to the 25th of December brings.
In my own charges the preparations follow a pretty familiar pattern - extra worship, a different eucharistic prayer with a slightly hard rhythm, particular choice of hymns, a special discipleship group... For the sixth time in these charges (still early days) there is now a familiarity about the Advent journey. A few things have changed - participants, staff, details - but broadly the Advent experience is familiar.
Is that a good thing?
Should Advent feel familiar, year on year? How do we re-capture the freshness and excitement of what it is all rooted in, the realisation of the coming of the saviour? What new thing can we do, what new innovation can we find to re-capture the newness of Advent?
Or does the very familiarity of waiting (again) for a saviour, actually capture the centuries of waiting that had passed before the birth of Jesus? The cycles of the Jewish calendar and festivals, the celebration of a long-lost-reality of a Passover. The cycles of conquest and despair, followed by hope and (partial) restoration.
And does the the very familiarity of waiting (again) for a saviour, actually capture the centuries of Christians waiting for it to happen again, puzzling about the words that Jesus said to them: 'Some of those here present will not have died before the end times come...'?
Waiting is a very human occupation. We wait, from the moment we are born. We wait for our life on earth to end. And we need to fill that waiting with something - life, love, relationships, cures for cancer, an end to wars, universal acceptance of all humanity. It stops one getting bored, to have something to do while we wait.
A pause in the Advent waiting. A time to reflect. To wait for the Advent waiting to start again, tomorrow...