In normal, non-pandemic years, this weekend would represent the calm before the storm. Most of the time Advent Sunday falls on Thanksgiving weekend, so even though it is a major day on the Christian calendar, many people are often still traveling home after feasting with their extended family. Around the church it tends to be quiet, but not for long. Within days the sprint towards Christmas begins, including the Choral Society concert, the choir family Christmas party, the Advent Procession with Carols, the Ceremony of Carols, and all the happy, frenetic chaos that builds to a climax on Christmas Eve.
This year, I am guessing that what we’ll have is not the calm before the storm, but the calm before the calm. The gatherings and customs we normally enjoy in December cannot happen. The office parties, the open houses, the crowded shopping, and every other activity that would increase the risk of spreading the virus must all be on hold, or occur in a greatly diminished manner. To be sure, it is going to be different, but it doesn’t have to be unfruitful.
One service I am going to miss is the Advent Procession with Carols. It would have taken place on Sunday, December 6 at 4 pm. The choir and clergy would have processed around the nave, pausing at each of the four corners to read a passage of Scripture announcing the coming of the Lord. The readings vary from year to year, but one of them is often Zechariah 2:10-13, ending with the command: Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.
The unique challenge before us this year is to be silent, and make the most of the calm after the calm we are likely to encounter in the weeks to come. In Advent, we often talk about the brevity of time, and how we could all use more of it. Well, this year, you’ve got it.
A blessed Advent to you all, my friends. See you in church, and on the livestream too.