Advent is upon us
As consumerism reaches the manic pitch of Black Friday and post-Thanksgiving sales, Christendom marks the beginning of Advent—a time designated for slowing down and preparing ourselves internally.
I asked staff at King’s Chapel about their own experiences in Advent and about some of the clashes between liturgical teachings of the season and the world-as-it-is this time of year. King’s Chapel Church School Director Eva Englert has in mind all those displaced from shelters by the rushed closing of the Long Island bridge, but remembers very fondly her family’s practice of lighting the Advent wreath together at home; now that distance separates them, they light the wreath together over Skype, singing the same favorite hymns and carols.
Rev. Shawn Fiedler, as a young gay man, is especially aware of youth living in dangerous exile from families who have been unable to understand or accept their children’s shifting genders or sexual identities, and he remembers every year around this time that for his entire adult life our country has been entangled in wars.
We hear about immigration issues and families separated by borders of no-return; we hear about more violence in the Middle East, more sickness in Africa, and elders in our own country living in isolation. Senior Minister Joy Fallon reminds us that even as all of us are caught up in the number of days left to shop for our loved ones, Advent marks the number of days counting down to the arrival of a new beginning in the Christian calendar; that just as we are pressuring ourselves to deliver perfection—in the form of dinners, gifts, parties—Advent marks a time for finding in our own hearts the small calm centers of an anxious world. But is Advent’s quiet really possible amidst the noisy clamor of our city and the undeniable brokenness of the human condition?
Some years during the holiday season, Peace just seems impossible, Hope seems delusional, Joy a distant memory, and Love more like a longing for something lost than a warm glow cast on the faces of family members in front of the fire.
Truly, Advent is a season of complexity, marked by cultural contrasts and extremes that stimulate our own private wondering and tap into the timelessness of tradition. This season, King’s Chapel wishes to extend an invitation to all: to join us in slowing down the busy-ness of the day to make room for hope, peace, joy and love, so that we might re-discover each of these gifts in time for Christmas. To find out more about King’s Chapel’s offerings in Advent, please visit: www.kings-chapel.org.
King’s Chapel Parish House