Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Faith Perspectives: Advent Can Bring the Shelter of Community

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Faith Perspectives: Advent Can Bring the Shelter of Community

Article excerpt

A well-rehearsed drama will unfold over the next few weeks. As boxes of decorations wend their way up from basements and neatly wrapped presents hide from sight, lots of old family stories will be recalled and recited.

Advent and Christmas follow a tightly written script, which often has little room for adjustments and changes.

There might be scary ghost stories or tales of the glories of long, long ago but they are the same stories, the same tales, told over and over.

For my family, this will include stories of Christmas with grandparents, or the year Mom had the flu, or the time Santa left a present in the garage. We'll laugh about the time when our now six- foot-tall son was most content playing with empty boxes all Christmas morning.

It is also true for our congregational families. The halls will be decked with boughs of holly, and also buckets of memories. If you don't believe me, then just ask your pastor to tell you what happened the year the previous pastor moved the Christmas tree to the other side of the sanctuary. I bet I can tell you what happened.

Our family was surprised when we moved to St. Louis. We watched as Nativity sets were placed on lawns, sans baby Jesus. It's tradition, some said. To us, it seemed that the adoring parents were left spending an entire month eyeing an empty crib. No wonder the kings looked curious.

Times change. The Washington press corps can tell you about that. But although traditions evolve over time, they end abruptly. Disruptions halt the unfolding of tradition, and then the holiday narratives we worked so hard to fine- tune suddenly sound discordant.

Life this season seems particularly different. It feels as if Clark Griswold missed a whole strand of lights, or that Frosty is singing off key. Isn't there anyone reading the briefing books? Is it too much to ask that things might proceed along a predictable path?

Some years ago, our congregation began holding an Advent service of prayer and healing. …

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