After a *brief* (?) hiatus, I am back with TGI…S. For the four weeks leading up to the mystery that is Christmas, I will be reflecting on the weekly church themes of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Sunday being the first day of the week, it is my intent that these thoughts coming out on a Sunday give a little bit to chew on for the week in each of these themes. These weeks are called Advent, a season of waiting, of anticipation, of preparation. Advent is about listening for the promises God makes and waiting for those promises to be realised. While everything and everyone around us is in a hurry: shopping, baking, lighting, mailing…we take time to slow down. This is internal preparation, not external preparation. This is a time to actively work against the whirlwind around us and go slow.
What I am Thinking About
At this time of year, slowing down a little actually feels like slowing down a lot. It can feel excruciatingly slow even to just move at a normal pace. This has got me thinking about the speed at which I tear through life. I have bumped into this lesson multiple times throughout my adult life: moving faster than is reasonable and then crashing and burning for a few days to catch up. The odd thing about this is that it flies in the face all that I believe in: listening, noticing, studying, reflecting, visiting. I value long simmered meals, slow coffee visits, watching the world. And sometimes I forget and get caught up in the speed around me and focus on productivity over process. And it doesn’t work. Not for me anyway. I seem to be wired for slowness, for pause, for thoughtfulness. Perhaps we all are.
What I am Grateful For
Second chances. Third chances. 897th chances. I am grateful for a faith that teaches and reaffirms that God is audaciously forgiving, recklessly loving, and relentless in pursuing a relationship with us.
I am a slow learner and I have bumped into this same burnout to varying degrees so many times. And here I am again – yes, I tend to catch it sooner than I used to but, like I said, I am a slow learner. Thankfully, I have and endless number of chances to learn to do this better.
And what this really means is that I am perfectly poised for Advent. Advent, the time of preparation. This week we listen for God’s promise of Hope. So, this week I will slow down and look for seeds of hope all around. They are there, if I have eyes to see and a pace that encourages noticing.
What Inspires Me
This morning at church was so much fun; I am so filled with love and gratitude! The church in December is such an amazing place. Folks whose schedules lured them to soccer fields and hockey rinks over the last few months often return to worship. Those who are there every week happily welcome the return of friends and make plans for the holidays. There are usually extra treats after church and the children are often buzzing with excitement. Today we welcomed Santa and Mrs. Claus for photos in between worship and the parade to raise money for the Toy Library, and as we watched the parade, I got to visit with so many friends along the way from church.
I am feeling so incredibly blessed and enriched to be a part of this community. I am also inspired by the level of service the goes on quietly in that place…
How I am Practicing my Faith
This week I plan to slow down and work to let go of my attachment to productivity. Yes, I need to do things – I am a minister in December after all! But I want to slow down enough to recognize the hope that is all around me. To consider the hope that is held in the body of a woman, swollen with a life inside her almost ready to change the world.