Welcome to Advent. For Christians, Advent is the liturgical New Year.
In a strange bit of irony, we begin our journey to Christmas in the wilderness. John the Baptizer is a lonely voice “crying in the wilderness.” He is calling us to turn around and move in a different direction than the one we are currently wandering upon.
Advent is meant to be our seasonal GPS motivating us to a direction more in line with divine direction.
It is also a time to reflect upon what that direction might be. What kinds of directional signals might point us in the walk toward love in human form? Call me a Matthean Christian. I believe the way of divine love is marked by compassion toward the weak and vulnerable, refugees, children and elderly.
As I write these words, I’m aware that this is “Giving Tuesday.” My email box is filled with good causes to contribute to, often causes we already contribute to whenever possible. And then I have to stop and ponder.
All good causes need funds to keep afloat and do the works that are their purpose. Then I have to ask myself if I have become the modern equivalent of “the rich young ruler” who gave generously and endeavored to follow the laws and the commandments, but was asked to go further.
What might further look like? Can I step out of my comfort zone to take a further step?
The next step could be as simple as volunteering locally for one of many ministries serving our homeless. The needs are all around us. These needs don’t take vacation breaks.
But even as I pen this reflection, I have another thought.
Thursday evening, November 14, I came upon my husband prone in our garage. I made a desperate call to 911 and never felt so grateful for the rapid and professional response.
Maybe, a step further is to remember the incredible people who are our local first responders and also never take a day – or night – off.
This may be the Advent when I ponder how best to thank and support the people on the front lines responding to the needs and emergencies, often as the first persons to encounter our most vulnerable citizens.
Welcome to Advent. Set aside time to reconsider our direction and alter course, or, go deeper. It’s that time of year again.
Don’t rush Christmas.
This wilderness time is critical for our development.
Rev. Elaine Silverstrim is a retired Episcopal priest, a member of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association, and a resident of Wilmington.