At the beginning of the pandemic, I counted days. I remember marking when we had been separated from one another for 40 days and then 80 days. After that, I stopped counting. Partly, time seemed to disappear into that strange universe where it moves more quickly and slowly at the same time, and partly, it just seemed too daunting to name a number when there was no end in sight.
And although I’m very thankful that we have some sense of how to curb the spread of the virus and that what we are asked to do is reasonably easy albeit emotionally taxing, I have to say the last 9 months have had their ups and downs. I have had times where I was just so overwhelmed I didn’t want to do another thing. And I’ve had times where I’ve felt more productive than ever as my introverted self thrived on the quiet of social distancing.
So, when I consider that new testament events are thought to have happened 400 years after anything in the old testament, I am in awe that anyone could still have hope that God would break into the world again. That means hope had to be passed down, from generation to generation. And that hope had to be strong enough that when the time came – those who had been entrusted with this hope, could see it manifesting in the world.
When I consider the number of days people had waited when there starts to be hints of Jesus in the New Testament I am always amazed, but this year I have an extra special appreciation for the absence of communication from God and then the hint of Good news. The faith we practice today is only possible because of that transmission of hope over multiple generations.
Today is the first Sunday of the season of Advent in the Christian calendar, the first of four Sundays before December 25 when we intentionally wait and prepare for the birth of Jesus. We intentionally wait and prepare for good news that was 400 years in the making.
Throughout this pandemic year we’ve talked about the importance of our sacred story. The importance of leaning on it for strength and encouragement during these challenging times. At some point every year I end up pointing out that Jesus lived over 2000 years ago, the fact that we have passed down the stories and the faith over that many years is miraculous to me and this year I find myself extra grateful for our sacred stories of hope and possibility.
Our anchor image for this advent season is a luminary.
We’ll have these available at our special edition Christmas Fair community day on Saturday, Dec. 5 from 1-4pm in front of First Parish. Take one and put it in your house, on your table, or on your Christmas tree as a reminder of our sacred story. Use it to renew your sense of God’s presence in the world, your sense of strength, comfort, and hope.
As Paul S. Berge says,
We too are called to announce and make known God’s Son in this season of Advent. Like the witness of John, we too are witnesses to the one who incarnates “the beginning of the good news, the gospel” (1:1).1
So as we wait this Advent season, may we prepare the way of the Lord, holding hope in our hearts and certainty that there are better days to come. Thanks be to God. Amen.