I recognize it is an unusual greeting during the holidays, but so was "Greetings you who are highly favored!" (Gabriel's greeting to Mary in Luke 1). What you may not know is that the season of Advent is my favorite time of the year. Most of the significant changes in my life have happened during this time. My name 'Natasha' means rebirth or born in December. In a sense I was born- or reborn- in December because it was during December that I was baptized while in college. It was also in December that I accepted my call to ordained ministry after my father in ministry preached an Advent message. 7 years ago during Advent I moved into my newly built home (which for me represented God's promises to me) after a season hoping, praying, and believing. Advent always brings for me a renewed sense of wonder, possibility, and expectation.
Advent couldn't come fast enough this year, and truthfully I almost let it slip through my fingers. After experiencing so many challenges- financial and otherwise- I just began to think that this is how it is and always will be. The inability to move substantially forward on my writing and my decision to aim for graduation in September of 2016 rather than May also has had me feeling a little disappointed. Yet Sunday as I was sitting in the pulpit, I was reminded that we are in the Advent season. As I was listening to the routine litany that accompanies the lighting of the first candle, I felt a little more life than I have felt in some time. In that moment, I decided to be intentional about focusing on this season.
I've chosen to do things like assembling a playlist of Advent songs and starting an Advent reading plan. Having always found the infant narratives (particularly Luke 1) to be moving, I've also decided to give focused attention to studying these scriptures. Lately I have often felt defeated, deflated, and disappointed, and these passages remind me of God's ability to break into ordinary life with an extraordinary gift. My hope is to fall in love with these scripture passages all over again. More than anything I hope to believe God once again, and for God to renew a spirit of wonder and anticipation during this season of expectancy.
Blessed is she who believes, for there will be a performance of those things told her from the Lord. ~Luke 1:45