Advent: Who can you trust, rely upon?


Elaine Silverstrim - Contributing columnist



Today looks like a winter wonderland with the fresh snow. But this past Sunday — the First Sunday of Advent — was a perfect day for being outside.

With masks and keeping a distance I had the joy of a little time with our eight-year-old great grandson. He is a philosopher at heart. In our random conversations he suggested that if I am of fond of action movies, I might wish to avoid the Marvel series. He also reflected that for old people, such as myself, time seems to go swiftly, but for people his age, a day can sometimes feel like a thousand days.

Normally, this might be true, but this year is and has been like no other. This year time is warped and some days feel like thousands.

When will this end? How will this end?

Who do I listen to for information I can trust and rely upon?

As we approach the Second Sunday of Advent, these are the same questions addressed by Isaiah 40:1-11. “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term.” Assuring words written over 2,500 years ago to a people in exile that their exile would soon be over.

Message #1 for this time: However long this seems to have lasted; however longer it will last; this, too, will pass. Hold fast, be faithful, listen…

As with most, my husband and I went into self-imposed lockdown in mid-March, during Lent. Suddenly Lent became very different. I made fabric face masks and handed them out like candy. We continue to wear those masks. We shifted to Amazon and assembled puzzles and figured out zoom.

Trips were canceled. Life went into “stand-by.” Easter was unlike any Easter before. Instead, it has felt like we left Lent to enter one very long Advent. Waiting. Living in the tension of “Already-but-not-yet”.

This isn’t the End of All Time. But as this has lingered, more and more, we are living through the end of those times.

We will emerge from this altered. We will emerge from this and hopefully find a way to truly grieve the hundreds of thousands who didn’t survive, while supporting the millions who will be living with life-long health and economic consequences. This is Advent.

I’m ready for it to be over. In a break from a lifetime of tradition, I joined with the millions of fellow citizens to put up our Christmas tree, bring out the decorations and lights, the weekend before Thanksgiving.

The lights and greenery remind me of the other message of Advent. We know the end of the story. He arrives. This longest Advent of my lifetime is quite likely to last for several more months, but Christmas will as well.

Message #2 for this time: We, the children of a loving God, live in the space and tension of “Already-Not-Yet”. God is with us now. Even as we wait for whatever is next, a world hopefully renewed and better than the one now passing.

Task for Advent: Clean the sanctuaries of our hearts to make a place fit for a child.

In the words of Julian of Norwich, mystic and anchorite whose wisdom graced the lives of pilgrims during the Black Death (ca. 1348-52), “All will be well,….” By all accounts that pandemic paved the way for the Rennaissance, the Reformation, The Age of Reason, the Modern World…

Rev. Elaine Silverstrim is a retired Episcopal priest, a member of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association, and a resident of Wilmington.

This weekly column is provided to the News Journal by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.

Elaine Silverstrim

Contributing columnist