Today is December 1st. I can hardly believe it. The secular countdown to Christmas is already in full-swing, the liturgical one will begin Sunday with the first Sunday of Advent. It's time to start opening windows on your Advent Calendar, but let those daily reminders be more than a cause for alarm about all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning left to do. Let those daily reminders also serve like a spiritual alarm clock.
Some people dislike alarm clocks - what they represent, the jarring sound they make to disturb your sleep. Some select phone alarm tones that are soothing, but I've noticed those can keep people comfortably in bed. Many people are good at hitting the snooze button. I'm always curious that people know how many times they allow themselves to hit the snooze button. To me, just planning to wake at the last time you would allow yourself to hit the snooze means better, longer sleep that ends with the one (and only) alarm. But, that's me.
Back to the spiritual alarm clock. Advent is meant to serve that purpose. Each day as you open the window on your Advent calendar or light the candles on your Advent wreath or do whatever you do to mark the days of the season, the point isn't merely to get ready for the Christmas celebration. It's also to get ready for Jesus' return. That's why the first reading of the Christian year (and of the Advent season) is Mark 13:24-37. It's meant to wake us up to the God who came before, whose presence remains among us, and who is coming again.
Let this season be one that awakens you, that draws you out of a stupor and into the joy of Christ and his Kingdom.
Sunday should help - worship in the morning (9 and 11:15 am), Charge Conference Sunday at 2:00 pm in Spears (all are invited; Charge Conference members are allowed to vote), Service of the Longest Night at 5:00 pm in the sanctuary.
If you haven't experienced the Service of the Longest Night, please give it a try. It is meant to give space for peace in the midst of all the other trappings that come this time of year. It's a time to give space to those who are grieving the absence of a loved one, but also who are struggling with financial or work or familial or time pressures. Some of us find great meaning in just having a calmer service to counteract all the up-tempo tunes and flashing lights in stores right now. We'll sing, pray, read scripture, hear a short message, receive Communion and have an opportunity for anointing with oil. It's one of the few services this year we've asked all 4 staff clergy to participate in - it means that much to us. I hope you can come.