Advent is the season of waiting, something I’ve never been particularly fond of or adept at doing. This Advent, however, occurs in the midst of a global season of waiting. So, it is like waiting squared. Are we Christians really waiting for Jesus to return to earth in any corporeal way? Some do, some don’t. It isn’t really a big part of my theology…I figure that the historical Jesus (who lived and taught in the 1st century) gave us fairly clear instructions to be co-creators of the kingdom of God, we humans just haven’t been compliant, so far.
Is that what we’re waiting for, or is it something perhaps less dramatic, but every bit as profound? (I’ll be preaching on that this Sunday, so tune in at 10:00 or the next day on our website!)
We are waiting for a lot of other things to fall into place right now: waiting for vaccine approval…for vaccine production…for vaccine distribution… to see our friends…waiting to see our families… to be back in our church home… to sing (outside the shower and in the company of others)… to give big hugs… to venture into the store… to have a beer together at the brewpub…to go back to the gym and the pool…to start a new job after being laid off…to have some relief in making rent payments…to have a sense of normalcy in our everyday routine…to have friends over for dinner…to travel..to have the occupant of the White House admit defeat. Some time we are going to get the good news that we’ve turned the corner in dealing with Covid-19.
The pandemic has caused us to wait, but not everything has been delayed. We still have a relationship with God. We continue to worship. We continue to be in touch with family and friends, even if it’s through a phone call or a Zoom connection. We have ongoing work to do, personally and vocationally.
One of the things you may have thought you had to postpone (but that I encourage you not to delay) is the experience of joy. This is different than being happy or satisfied or contented or jovial. Joy is a deeper emotion that plays more in the heart than it does in the mind. Most of us aren’t exactly joyful that we got a new iPhone for Christmas…but we are joyful in seeing a sister or brother or child or grandchild on FaceTime or Zoom. Most of us don’t experience joy when we get a positive report card in school, but we do experience joy when we see a stunning sunrise. Where do you experience joy that wraps together wonder and love and a sense of the numinous, a glow that opens up beyond your own, individual experience?
I invite you to open your heart to the possibility of encountering joy in this season, to look for the footprints of the divine in your everyday life. And when you have that experience, to see it as a glimmer of the Christlight in your midst. And to see this as joyful good news – Joyeux Noël!
The Rev. Hal Chorpenning has been Plymouth's senior minister since 2002. Before that, he was associate conference minister with the Connecticut Conference of the UCC. A grant from the Lilly Endowment enabled him to study Celtic Christianity in the UK and Ireland. Prior to ordained ministry, Hal had a business in corporate communications. Read more about Hal.