Advent: Prepare to Prepare

You know why I love Thanksgiving? Because it means that the church season of Advent is only a few days away. It's awfully nerdy, this love I have of the church seasons. But admit it--you have your own little nerd corner that you rule. Maybe it's fantasy football or mowing the lawn a particular way or maybe it's something you won't even cop to in certain social circles. Not me--I'm putting it out there for all seven of you readers. I love the drama of the church calendar...and Advent reigns supreme. Advent marks the four weeks leading up to Christmas. For four Sundays, we surround ourselves with blue altar cloths. We light candles in the Advent wreath. We huddle together in the growing darkness. We sing songs about expectant, hope-filled longing. And we wait.

All of that is set against another story we might be living. And that story might include: addiction, incredibly messy family systems, weariness, unemployment, life-sucking employment, loneliness, depression, grief, eating disorders. Did you read that list and think, "Oh, those poor folks. I am so glad I don't have to deal with any of those things." Okay, then how about the onslaught of consumerism? If you breathe, you can't help but be swept up into the Black Friday, early Black Friday, post Black Friday buy! buy! buy! It seeps into all the cracks and tells us how to have a Holly Jolly Christmas (read: spend your money on this product or experience).

A few weeks ago, a pilot group of Humble folks gathered for a simple meal and talked about what Advent offers. We listened to one another talk about the pressure we feel...to provide a "good" Christmas for our people...all the while being aware of the reality of our broken lives. What I heard was a strong voice to keep our community and worship life simple. Humble, if you will. We don't want to do more or add more. Mostly, we want to be intentional with the relationships we have with one another.

Then, a few folks offered to make and provide soup and bread for the community. And a new 2011 Advent discipline was born. You are invited to sit with us. To sing songs of hope. To wait. To light candles. To hear the words of the prophets and that reckless Messiah. Then, if you are hungry, stick around for a bowl of soup and some bread.