Friday, December 18, 2009

A Blessedly Stressful Advent

Very quickly, in the midst of the stress and anxiety that can curse this time of holy Advent expectation, let me share a moment in the life of my congregation.

A couple of days ago, I took a moment to stop and notice what was going on at St. Andrew’s in a single late morning and early afternoon. In the entryway, one man was gathering up containers others had brought for the lunch program at the Kansas City Community Kitchen. Down the hall, a group of women were gathering for Bible study. Downstairs, 14 people were loading packets of food into backpacks to help feed poor children from our partner school during Christmas break. Soon after, seven people were sitting around a table revamping the church’s website to make it easier to use for newcomers and members alike. And in the office, staff and volunteers were doing the mostly unseen and unsung work of caring for people in trouble, preparing worship booklets for Christmas Eve, tracking the money, distributing assistance to strangers in need, keeping the building in good shape, and responding to scores of e-mails and phone calls.

In addition to all the activity, and the love it embodies, what struck me was the fact that this was simply a day in the life. Granted, it’s late Advent; and that means everything is cranked up a few notches. But basically, this is just what we do here.

So maybe I need to see all that pre-Christmas stress and anxiety through a different lens. In this moment, and at all moments, we’re getting ready for the Savior to come among us –- next week, as a child in the cold; and finally, as the Lord of all. This kind of work is not exactly contemplative, but it’s certainly necessary preparation for God-With-Us.

So –- a blessedly stressful Advent to you.