As I wrote about last week, we begin Advent with a few changes to the arrangement in our sanctuary, moving the presider, deacon, and altar server chairs closer to the altar and ambo, creating some open space at the far end for the Advent wreath and, we anticipate, the Nativity scene. Advent is a season of hope, and our hope is that these changes further the liturgical life of our parish. The liturgy is the work of the people, of us all, so we welcome any constructive feedback you may have.
Speaking of changes, during this season, I’m reminded of how my life changed in a big way during the Advent of 2009. My daughter, Colette, was born on December 18 of that year, so my wife, Allison, and I spent most of that Advent in a state of heightened anticipation, especially as first-time parents. In the midst of one of the darkest, coldest days of the year, our long-awaited, perfect child arrived on scene to the delight of all of our family and friends. And there was much rejoicing, maybe some angels singing, and it even snowed a little bit! But then…
It was actually a pretty cold winter that year, and we were stuck inside. Colette was allergic to dairy, so Allison had to give that up for as long as it took to move to formula. For someone who lives on coffee and pizza, an eternity. Both of our families live out of state, and we had just moved into a new home, so we didn’t have many local connections. The help of many good friends and several visits from our families kept us sane. We survived the winter. Forward to 2012 and our tiny baby is almost 7, going on 15 (those of you with teenagers are laughing, I know… we have no idea…). It’s always something, every day is a surprise, usually good, thankfully, but not always. What exactly were we anticipating back in December of 2009? I think we were mistakenly anticipating simply the arrival of our little bundle of joy, when what we were really in for was a life journey with lots of twists and turns.
So, what are we anticipating this Advent? What are we preparing for? No one loves Christmas more than I, but if we are just focused on a baby born in a manger, we’re missing the boat. The upcoming liturgical year gives us the opportunity to journey with Jesus. We remember the narrative of his life, hear him through the Scriptures speaking directly to us, and experience his real presence, not only in the Sacraments, but in our daily lives. Be prepared, Jesus is coming to Saint Raphael this year, and not just as a baby at Christmas!
Submit your liturgical questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
– Jeff Rice, Pastoral Associate of Liturgy & Music