Thursday, December 3, 2009

Approaching Advent

Tonight I ran sound (and got paid!) for my school's annual Christmas concert - elementary, middle, and high school orchestra, band, and choir.

(I was reminded of Bauman's lecture on Machiavelli, and the need to be a virtuoso. This year I had a lot more sympathy/empathy with the 5th grade band/orchestra. They've only been playing for a few months, and I'm realizing how now, more than ever, I'm really in their shoes with so many things - actually everything! - from reading to learning to media/video and theology and asking questions...)

But it was the Christmas part that struck me. (Crazy, right, at a Christmas concert? Who would have guessed?)

The past two Christmases have not been particularly joyful for me. Two years ago was in the middle of the Implosion, when our church was splitting apart, and I was losing my community, friends, and mentors, the place where I was encouraged and where I served. At the same time, my grandmother was really sick, in the hospital, and it was our last Christmas with her. Last year I had surgery right after finals, so I was still on drugs and in pain on Christmas day - and it was so different without Nanny.

The greatest blessing of Christmas last year was getting to officially participate in the celebration of Advent at church. It wasn't really done at the interdenominational church we attended for the previous nine years, and while I had always been aware of Advent, it was really encouraging to be a part of consciously celebrating it. (I was reminded this past Sunday that it was exactly a year ago, the first Sunday of Advent 2008, that I really began to feel at home with FUMCC.)

I think Advent is really important, and something I've never been good at. It always seems as if Christmas sneaks up on me, and it's here and gone before I ever really consider the significance of God becoming flesh and living among us.

I see the world in terms of black and white, and sometimes it's hard for me to get past the problems I see. There have been times I've really struggled with Christmas just because of the cultural implications and the materialism and the sentimentalism. And contrary to popular opinion, these are not what Christmas is about. I blogged about this last year, and I don't want to beat a dead horse, so here's my point.

I can get so distracted by what Christmas is not, or what it shouldn't be, that I forget what it is. This is why I desperately need something like the season of Advent, a time to actively remember and prepare my heart for Immanuel, God-with-us, taking the form of His creation upon Himself that He might redeem us.

Oh God, teach me how to remember and worship.

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