Preparation, Busyness, and Expectation

What a busy time of year!

Yesterday, if it hadn’t been clear to me before, it certainly became clear that it’s a time of preparation for Christmas. The morning started with the liturgical observance. The children joined us at the start of the service for the lighting of the first candle on the Advent wreath with a short response and singing a song.

I love Advent, although in doing the hymn planning this year, I was disappointed that there seem to be so few readings in this year’s lectionary that will set me to humming tunes from Handel’s Messiah. Oh, well. It’s still a great season, and I’ll just make sure to get my Messiah fix elsewhere. (Need to clear off some space on my mp3 player!)

Then, I had to find a quick chance for lunch and putting on my black shirt and Christmas tie for the “Sing Noel” concert put on by the community choir I accompany. And as is common in the world outside the church (and also in churches where the observance of Advent as a separate season is not part of their tradition), Christmas was not just coming yesterday afternoon, it was here.

choirThe concert went quite well. The choir sang well, our guest harpist played well, and I’m sure I played well. And in all the busyness, I didn’t have time for some of the “last time” thoughts. I will be part of accompanying the choir’s spring concert where they’ll sing Vivaldi’s Gloria. But the Christmas concert is always fun, and it’s the last one I will be here for. Next Christmas will be quite different. And it will be special, spending my first Christmas with warriormare as husband and wife. But as I sit here, I realize that I am likely not to be quite as busy. This time next year, I may or may not have my employment authorization yet, and even if I have it, it won’t have had it for long, so not only will I not be here, playing for the people I’ve played for each December for the past few years, I won’t have quite the same opportunities next year.

But back to preparing for Christmas. My calendar is beginning to fill up, with choir commitments, concerts, and accompanying and this time of year I most have to be careful not to double-book myself. But if past years are any guide, before I know it, Christmas will all of a sudden be here.  And by the time I usually pause to realize it, it’s panic time. There are services to play for! Gifts yet to buy! How am I going to deal with this?! And never mind being emotionally prepared!

One song that really speaks to me of the expectation of this time of year is “People Look East” And looking at it to write about it now, I see that there’s a wonderful progression from the people preoccupied (as I am) with the physical preparations: trimming the hearth, setting the table, and preparing for the arrival of Love, the guest. And in the last verse, we have angels announcing the news of Christ’s coming, and we finish with the reminder that Love, God is on the way.

It is all too easy to dichotomize the busyness of the season from the spirituality, as though one could focus on either one or the other. But this season is about both the coming of Christ and about busyness of hospitality and caring for each other. And when I think about it, despite my love of the music of Advent and Christmas, why I really like this time of year is the sharing and togetherness.  Which is another reason for me to look forward to next Christmas, to share togetherness with warriormare (especially since the requirements of my work and her family mean that next year will be the first time we share Christmas Eve together).