This Sunday begins our Advent journey toward Bethlehem and Christmas.
Like everything else this year, Advent will feel different.
The same challenges will be with us that were there on Thanksgiving: An inability to gather in large numbers, not feeling safe in public places including church, and squeezing the last drop out of yet another bottle of hand sanitizer.
Some things, of course, will be the same. Christmas trees will go up along with many decorations and lights. Our live streaming services will anchor the season and help you remember the true meaning and spirit of this important time of year.
In some ways, I think our inability to do things “normally” during this Advent and Christmas season can be a good thing. That is because the way we “normally” do things can keep us from the core purpose of Advent and the deep meaning of Christmas.
Think about it: the old normal had us rushing around and out of breath for the entire month of December. Maybe that won’t happen so much this year. We took for granted the back and forth family visits—sometimes looking forward to them, sometimes dreading them. Now, in their absence, we can more fully appreciate how important those visits really are.
The crush of the season’s old normal kept us from any consistent, private devotions or family worship. Maybe this year, that can take center stage.
God is with us in whatever ways this holiday season will look different. God is with us, especially, as we pray for too many who have fallen ill with Covid 19 and everyone whose lives have been altered by this pandemic.
One thing I expect to see this year is the Joseph and Mary statues in public nativity scenes sporting masks. In all honesty, I can’t think of a better symbol of the season. It will certainly be a great visual reminder that God is right next to us in the midst of this on-going pandemic and all of the instability that it brings.
Advent this year will be a wonderful way to remember that into the midst of uncertainty, suffering, and worry—Christ is Born.
Nothing can change that.