Long before the Thanksgiving turkey is turned into turkey enchiladas or the dressing reheated into a cinder, I start thinking about Christmas preparations.
I'm sure this is no surprise to you, but as a pastor I feel a certain responsibility to prepare, not just my own heart for the coming of the Christ, but the heart of every single person in the entire congregation. All I want (it's a simple thing, really) is for every Philo Presbyterian to experience the hope, joy, peace and love of Christmas in a deep and profound way. Is that too much to ask???
How to help that happen . . . this is the subject of the pastor's inner dialogue day and night. We (not the royal "we" - really, there are lots of us!) "converse" with the lectionary passages, devotional literature, the Hymnbook, choral music we have collected over many years of hanging around church choir lofts. We reread journals (or vow to begin keeping one) and think back over Christmases past. We note what thoughts and themes keep recurring. Is that God's still small voice speaking?
And soon we come to the realization that . . . we are paralyzed. There are too many possibilities, and none of them seem very promising. Sleep is fitful. Nerves are stretched tight. Papers pile up on desks. Prayers grow more desperate: Please, God, don't let another day go by before I figure out how to do Advent!
God, in his wisdom and mercy, however, does not allow time to stop. And so soon (and very soon! - that's an advent song) the time for planning is past and execution of the plan must begin.
That's where we are now.
So I'm sorry I haven't written anything the last few days. I was hoping to find just the right thing. But it's too late to worry about that anymore. We'll just have to set off down the bumpy road toward Bethlehem and hope for the best. Maybe for the valleys to be lifted up and the hills made low and the rough places made like a plain? Is that too much to ask?