Advent is a Process
December 7, 2012
"And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways."
Reflection by Donna Schaper
As a cradle ordained Christian, married to a Jew and a mother of three young adults, two of whom identify as Jewish and one who is religiously indifferent and also a grandmother of two, both of whom have a Rabbi for a mother and one of whom says beautiful prayers in Hebrew at table, I love/hate the Holidays. Phew. What a sentence.
In our family, we celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah, back to school and the Jewish New year, Passover and Easter. Advent, by the way, is not a Holiday. It is a process. I love Advent. Holidays are buckets spilling with meaning and usually staining the floor. Advent is a season of marinating and preparating. The Holidays yell PEACE and JOY at us; Advent prepares us for peace and joy. In the preparing, we become the ones at birth side, marveling at a God who gets pregnant. In the shouting, we are frequently disappointed by all the Holidays promise and don't deliver.
Best way to celebrate the holidays and Advent: Manage expectations and have high hopes. Best way to enjoy Advent: Remember that the holy is always happening and that now you are going to get some Muzak as an aid.
During the holidays we notice our desperation for something different. During Advent we hear the baby's heartbeat and enjoy it. We realize the baby is not just hiding in there but is going to come out and need tending. Advent is a marination, a childbirth education class, and training in breathing exercises. Things taste better when prepared in advance and especially when marinated before cooked.
If during the Holidays, things do taste better, during Advent, we know they taste better. One is the bucket, the other the meaning. One is the gobbling, the other is the savoring. In savoring, we think about how good it is going to taste before, during and after, not just in the bite itself.
In spiritual marination, we come slowly to the birth prepared by the pregnant God. There we marvel about how God could dare come as a child or send heaven to earth or spirit to flesh or drench humanity with divinity. We taste the results before, during and after, and always.
O God, don't let us forget to marinate this season, and prepare.
About the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Check out her blog, Grace at Table, at donnaschaper.com.
Join Donna Schaper this Sunday, Dec. 9, 6 p.m. EST on weekly web program Darkwood Brew, in their special Advent series based on Hark!