In worship on the last Sunday in November, the children helped us imagine how the church keeps track of time. We traced a straight line on the carpet with our fingers, like a timeline. Then we traced a circle on the ground, over and over circling back. For the church, time often seems to move in a circle, looping back on itself, always renewing and drawing us in.
Now we are at the beginning of Advent, and it is the beginning of a new cycle of the church year. In Advent, time seems to slow down. We are waiting, hoping, expecting. In our gospel readings this month, time seems to move backwards: we begin on the First Sunday of Advent with a story near the end of Jesus’s life. The next two weeks bring stories of John the Baptist, announcing that Jesus is coming. Finally on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we hear the story of Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth, celebrating the child Jesus that is yet unborn. I wonder how time feels to you in this season? Many of you will mark the passage of time in your home – with an advent wreath or calendar.
In worship, too, we’ll be keeping time. This year, worship in Advent will explore the theme “Come now and set us free.” We’ll hear texts about the future coming of Christ, the day of salvation and liberation. Zechariah sings, “You have come to your people and set them free,” and Mary sings, “You have cast down the mighty down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.” In addition to regular Sunday morning worship, we’ll have a contemplative midweek service on Wednesdays at 7pm.
On the community life front, we’ll have a chance to explore our own need for liberation, and to participate in organizing efforts to end mass incarceration, together with congregations throughout the city.
I hope you’ll join us in keeping this exciting season together at St. Luke’s. In Advent, God in Christ is at work in human time, even now setting us free.