Written by Rev. George Vink.
I was going to do it yesterday, but got too busy. I had minutes to write, phone calls to return, sermon polishing to finish, and more of the mundane. After all, retirement doesn’t mean vegetating. I couldn’t push it away to forget it, like too many other good intentions now totally forgotten. So…
Pastor and author, Donald Postema, wrote and we read, “Each year I yearn to be more sensitive to that quiet Gift during the harried, impatient, noisy rush towards Christmas. Yet I often arrive exhausted, fragmented, empty, feeling like I’ve missed something of God’s serene, saving presence in the Child of Bethlehem. How about you?”* Do I dare to answer? I wonder, has a pandemic year made it possible to be less exhausted, less fragmented? Or, are pastors more stressed than ever trying to make Christmas meaningful without gathering together and joining jubilant voices in “Joy to the World?” How does one sense “God’s serene, saving presence” when so much seems so abnormal?
Postema wonders if an imposed silence as imposed on doubting Zechariah could or would do it. He states it so well: “The gentlest of seasons invites us to be calm instead of harried, focused instead of fragmented.” And, after inviting to have “an attitude of awed stillness before the Lord,” he suggests, “During Advent maybe we could occasionally cancel church meetings so people could have few evenings not for more frantic shopping but for more quiet contemplation.” It may mean a muted television and a return to reading for people like me. It could be walks in the neighborhood where we live, wondering how others are preparing to welcome Jesus. It could become what Don calls, “a spiritually precious space where we are attentive to the loving, joyous presence of God-with-us.” It could be….
Then, Don again, “at the fullness of time, we might, like Zechariah, open our mouths in praise….” Then, our songs may be more meaningful and be sung more whole-heartedly, more doxologically. An imposed silence, self, angelic or pandemic, is bound to make a difference.
Could be worth a try.
*(Dec. 21 in MY HEART I OFFER-Daily Reflections on the Journey of Faith)