We are at the beginning of Advent and I like it.
It feels like Advent - which is a time of preparation and waiting.
This is a gray and rainy Tuesday morning. It is certainly not Christmas yet - but I can sense that something is coming and I want to be ready for it.
For me, there is always so much preparation before the time of preparation. We had to put together the Advent devotional and plan the preaching for the four weeks of Advent and write the candle lighting readings and find the candle lighters and decorate and on and on. Now - we get to be IN ADVENT.
Sunday I preached to myself as much as I preached to the congregation about the fact that the quality of our Christmas depends a good deal on our Advent preparation.
I talked about the different ways we prepare: solitude, silence, service, and spending time listening to God through God's word, creation and art. And my suggestions was that we give God a half hour a day. I intend to do that.
Yesterday I read a book and went to the movies and I think this was all Advent preparation.
The book was "Molokai" - a novel about a young woman Rachel who had leprosy and lived most of her life in a leper colony in Molokai (an island in Hawaii) It opened my eyes to the isolation of this terrible disease and also the reality that in the midst of sickness and rejection- there is life.
The movie was "The Descendents" which was about a land baron in Hawaii whose wife was in a coma following a boating accident. At the same time he was making a decision about selling a large parcel of paradise (Hawaii) that was in his family for over a hundred years. It was about family and connections and disconnections and life and death and pain and forgiveness. It was a wonderful movie - that expressed well the messiness of marriage and family life.
So I started Advent in Hawaii seeing the underside of paradise and the light in the darkest places and times.
Last week was a vacation in paradise for me - the Hocking Hills with my children and grandchildren. But I return always to life and to the needs all around us. Yesterday in the midst of my reading there was an interuption - a friend in a desperate situation asking for help with rent. And I am reminded that we are called to live - not in paradise but in the kingdom of heaven - open to being the light for those in dark places.
And so Advent begins.