As a child, I didn't know about Advent. The Big City Church didn't do liturgical season, we are Presbyies afterall.
Seminary introduced the Seasons to me and I became a captive to the idea of a holy calendar.
As a young woman, I felt I had Advent Edge because I knew how Elizabeth (Mrs. Zachariah) felt about childlessness and infertility. Waiting for a Hope delayed by one's body was in sync with the waiting for the coming of the Messiah. Not that I thought having a child was messianic but that the waiting for the healing of the world resonated with my own feelings of hope v. despair at being childless.
This year, however, I am seeing Advent with new eyes. I suppose that life down here post-hurricane is the closest I'll ever come (God willing) to living in a war zone. Basic services damaged, access roads demolished, debris, homelessness, immediate upheaval of a catastropic nature: all these things make me think I have some understanding of a war damaged area. The differences are large, though, in that we have military personnel everywhere but they aren't trying to hurt us. And, although the deaths here are too many, we weren't shot or bombed.
Granted, the analogy doesn't work completely but I am living where the future is impaired.
How does New Orleans get re-built? I understand that portions of the Great City are without power, water or any sign of re-building after three months. The earth in some areas is polluted beyond anything we've had to cope with before now. My New Orleans church members says she can't find even a drug store open without driving miles. The streets are quiet there, too.
How do we handle all emotional upset of life here on the Coast. Families crammed into trailers next to their housing slab. Ruby tells me that the FEMA installer told her to NOT turn on the heater in her trailer as it would blow up. She says she asked him why and he told her they couldn't fix the problem. It's cold here, now, and she will have to buy an electric heater or stay inside her damaged-but-standing home to keep warm.
Older people here are losing their friends who move away at the request of adult children or who decide that "they can't go through another hurricane" and are moving out-of-state.
There aren't enough workers to repair homes, rebuild homes or whatever one needs to have windows replace, roofs patched, etc. etc. The work teams coming often have skilled labor along with the happy hearts of non-skilled young people, but even these groups aren't enough.
*Time to think creatively about the future of ministry on the Coast. It doesn't make sense to return to business as usual since there isn't any "uusal" left.
*Spiritual unease because there are many who see the hurricane, even if they are educated better than this, as God's big whack with the cosmic 2 x 4.
I WOULD WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE IN THIS DURN BLOG IF I COULD.
I've got an edge on Advent 2005 and I'm not stopping until I figure out what God means for me and my people. I will not let go until I see the blessing.
I see blessing in many places and am grateful for the love and generosity of people who come to help, send money and pray for us. I mean, I will not let go until I "get" this situation.
The valleys have been brought up and the mountains leveled. I hear Handel's "Messiah" in my heart and am filled with curiousity about what it means to be God's people here in this place, in this time with my community.
Grace and Peace to you,