At church yesterday morning, as we were preparing to celebrate the first Sunday of Advent, my friend, colleague and my church’s music director got up to introduce the hymn we were about to sing. In one of those slips of the tongue, instead of talking about Advent, he said something about “As we enter this season of Lent…”
My mind began to wander. Of course he meant to say “Advent,” and my first instinct was to correct him, but of course I didn’t.
And as the worship service continued, I kept thinking about Advent and Lent and what’s different about these two seasons. One takes place during the darkest days of winter, while the other leads us into spring (in the corner of the world where I live, anyway). But it wasn’t the differences, but the similarities that intrigued me.
Both are seasons of the Church calendar, which of course means that both are focused on Jesus. Who is, after all, the reason the Christian church exists.
Both seasons are about waiting. Preparing. Advent is about waiting and preparing for Jesus’ birth, his coming. It’s about remembering what happened more than 2,000 years ago and about anticipating what is still to come. Advent is about Jesus’ long-ago birth in a barn in Bethlehem, but it’s also about his anticipated return. When will he come again? Where? How?
And so we wait.
Lent is about waiting and preparing for Jesus’ death, but ultimately preparing to celebrate the ultimate defeat of Death: the Resurrection. It’s a period of fasting and denying and clearing space to focus on the meaning of that sacrificial death. It’s a time for contemplating the significance of the miraculous empty tomb.
Both Advent and Lent are seasons of hope. They are also seasons I don’t always make space for in the busyness of my own day-to-day life.
Advent is the Church’s New Year, and so as my NaBloWriMo experiment comes to a close, I find myself looking forward to a different discipline, a kind of new year’s resolution: creating space to meditate on the miracle of this season of waiting.
And maybe blog about it occasionally. And about other stuff too.
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.