The church of my childhood was not one to observe the liturgical year. So, it was with some puzzlement that I slowly adapted to the concept of seasons of the church year--including Advent. For years, our church has eschewed singing most Christmas carols in services until Christmas Eve. And for years, I have chafed at this restriction.
I had conversations--not arguments--with our pastor (who is also a friend, and who recently retired) about the available carols that could be sung without breaking that Advent message. And sometimes we might even sing on of those carols--for example "Once in Royal David's City."
But still, our services during Advent continue to draw on the repertoire of Advent hymns--most of which are in a minor key, and are usually sung in unison. I guess to appreciate the import of that last description, you need to know that I am an alto, through and through, and I love--make that LOVE--to sing in four part harmony.
"O Come, O Come, Emanuel" or "Watchman, Tell Us of the Night" just doesn't put me in a Christmas spirit.
And then, last Sunday, our new pastor gave new meaning to me that helps me understand and even appreciate Advent. He said:
Suddenly, it clicked--and I finally get it.
When we focus on Christmas--on the birth of a baby--we forget that what preceded that birth was nine months of being pregnant. Nine months is a long time. Oh, certainly, it can pass by quickly, but when you are waiting for that nine months to go by, it can be a long time.
A long time for the expectant mother and father. A long time for family members--grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, and all manner of cousins. All waiting. Waiting for one singular day. Waiting for a birth.
And so, I now understand Advent in a way I had not understood it previously. So, thank you to our new pastor for giving me insight.
And thank you to our daughter and son-in-law for giving us a very personal example. Only a few more days--as we all wait.